Rep. John Lewis Painfully Relives the Horrors of the Racism He Suffered During Visit to Civil Rights Museum

Rep. John Lewis became emotional during a recent interview with CNN’s David Axelrod.

In an interview with CNN’s David Axelrod, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) became emotional after listening to a simulation of the racist vitriol he suffered during a sit-in when he was a young activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

During a July 14 appearance on “The Axe Files,” Lewis, accompanied by Axelrod, visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Ga., an experience that elicited a gut-wrenching reaction from the civil rights icon. The museum features an interactive lunch counter where Lewis relived some of the horrors he faced in the fight for racial and social equality.

Sounds of racist taunts and threats filled Lewis’ headphones as he sat statue-like at the counter, unwilling to move, as he had been taught to do during the civil rights movement. Once the simulation ended, the congressman became visibly upset.

“How painful is it to hear those scenes?” Axelrod asks.

“Surreal,” Lewis responds after he is overcome with emotion. “It is surreal.”

“It’s exactly what happened.”

Back to top