photo of John LewisPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Quotes by John Lewis

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by John Lewis. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for John Lewis

John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020) was an American politician, statesman, and civil rights activist and leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020. He was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966.

Lewis was one of the "Big Six" leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

In 1965, Lewis led the first of three Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In an incident which became known as Bloody Sunday, state troopers and police attacked the marchers, including Lewis.

A member of the Democratic Party, Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986 and served 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district he represented included most of Atlanta. Due to his length of service, he became the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. While in the House, Lewis was one of the leaders of the Democratic Party, serving from 1991 as a Chief Deputy Whip and from 2003 as a Senior Chief Deputy Whip. John Lewis received many honorary degrees and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Never give up. Never give in. Never become hostile. Hate is too big a burden to bear.

You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way to get in the way.

The press is supposed to serve as a check on government.

When you make mistakes, when you're wrong, you should admit you're wrong and ask people to forgive you.

Sometimes I feel like crying, tears of happiness, tears of joy, to see the distance we've come and the progress we've made.

Dr. King was one of the most inspiring human beings I ever met. He was such a warm, compassionate, and loving human being.

I think the administration can do a lot of good by telling folks that are on their side of the aisle, look, we may have lost the election on the Democrat side, but it's time to come together.

I say to people today, 'You must be prepared if you believe in something. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As individuals, we may not live to see the end.

Longer Version:

I say to people today, 'You must be prepared if you believe in something. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As individuals, we may not live to see the end.'

I think Donald Trump is dividing the American people. He is not good for America. It's not good for our standing in the rest of the world. To divide people based on race, a color, a religion, a sexual orientation, it's just ... it's just wrong.

We must be headlights and not taillights.

I think Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated this week. I have great concerns, and apparently Republicans do as well, and there's going to be an investigation about the role that Russian hacking played in getting him elected.

That issue has been resolved for years now, and it's been resolved for at least two years in Donald Trump's mind. And to bring that up as justification for John Lewis questioning the legitimacy of a democratic activity that is -- has been around since the beginning of our country is wrong.

Nonviolence is one of those immutable principles that we cannot and must not deviate from.

Even in the civil rights movement, there were so many unbelievable women. They never, ever received the credit that they should have received. They did all of the, and I cannot say it, they did all of the dirty work. Hard work.

In spite of all of the things, the issues, that we may be confronting today, I'm very hopeful, very optimistic about the future.

Children holding hands, walking with the wind. That is America to me- not just the movement for civil rights, but the endless struggle to respond with decency, dignity, and a sense of brotherhood to all the challenges that face us as a nation, as a whole.

I believe it is my obligation to tell the story of the civil rights movement to the next generation.

I believe that teachers -- whether in elementary schools, at the secondary level, or at colleges and universities -- every teacher deserves the Nobel Peace Prize just for maintaining order in our schools!

I happen to believe that this election year 2016 of the most important elections that we're going to face in a very long time. I know we hear from time to time that every election is important. This one is very, very important.

We never gave up. We didn't get lost in a sea of despair. We kept the faith. We kept pushing and pulling. We kept marching. And we made some progress.

Don't give up! Don't give in! Keep the faith! And keep your eyes on the prize!

Donald Trump is not going to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The vast majority of the American people agree with me and many others. You don't simply repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Republicans have had six years to come up with a replacement. They got nothing.

I think putting the United States down across the world is not something that a responsible person does.

Donald Trump's inauguration will be the first one that I miss since I've been in Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.

Selma helped make it possible for hundreds and thousands of people in the South to become registered voters and encouraged people all across America to become participants in a democratic process.

The book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, I read it when I was about 17-and-a-half or 18. It changed my life.

There is a need for a movement of non-violent direct action.

I have met every president since President Kennedy. And I think Barack Obama must be listed as one of the best. This young man has been so inspiring -- not just to people in America but to people all around the world.

People should organize people to just turn up and participate in the democratic process. Knock on doors. They may not be old enough to register to vote, but they can urge their teachers, their parents, their grandparents, their mothers, their fathers, and others to get out and vote.

People must understand that people were beaten, arrested, jailed, and some people were murdered, while attempting to register to vote, or to get others to register to vote.

Political parties are on the hunt to search and destroy each other, as though we were involved in some kind of enemy combat, rather than the work of statesmanship.

We all remember that Donald Trump was one of the leaders of the so-called birther movement trying to delegitimize the presidency of our first African-American president Barack Obama, which is an outrage.

1963, because of the sense of moral authority that the civil rights movement had, we were able to get people to respond, because of the quality of our demand and our sense of moral authority.

I met Rosa Parks when I was 17. I met Dr. Martin Luther King when I was 18. These two individuals inspired me to find a way to get in the way, to get in trouble. So I got in good trouble, necessary trouble.

It is our hope that when people read March -- Book One, Book Two, and Book Three -- that they will understand that another generation of people, especially young people, were deeply inspired by the work of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others.

It is only through examining history that you become aware of where you stand within the continuum of change.

I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement. It's not a friendship treaty. But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.

The last thing we want is a monolithic viewpoint where six people are standing before a president saying the same thing over and over again.

Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

I think all Americans should be hopeful, and try to be optimistic.

We will stand up for what is right, for what is fair and what is just. Health care is a right and not a privilege.

You have to have the capacity and the ability to take what people did, and how they did it, and forgive them and move on.

When people tell me nothing has changed, I say come walk in my shoes and I will show you change.

The reward for playing jazz is playing jazz.

I believe in nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living.

But you have to have hope. You have to be optimistic in order to continue to move forward.

In the South, we knew our adversary would stop at nothing to silence our activism. We knew we could never match his readiness to annihilate our resistance. So we ceded him that ground and challenged him instead to defend himself against the work of loving peace.

We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

If you're not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take that long hard look and just believe that if your consistent, you will succeed.

I say from time to time that the vote is precious. It's almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument that we have in a democratic society. And we must use it.

The human heart is the most important frontier to conquer in the struggle for human dignity.

If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?

The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic.

The time is always right to do right.

Comics, in a sense, the style, the images -- it's almost like music. They say music is a universal language, but when the eyes behold something, a figure, somebody moving; it's real, and it cannot be denied.

Listening to Dr. King on the radio inspired me. Coming under the influence of Jim Lawson inspired me to think that I, too, could do something.

The scars and stains of racism are still deeply embedded in the American society.

I don't think Trump really believes in all this stuff. But he thinks this would be his ticket to the White House -- at least to get the Republican nomination.

You have to be persistent.

Sometimes you have to not just dream about what could be -- you get out and push and you pull and you preach. And you create a climate and environment to get those in high places, to get men and women of good will in power to act.

Black men and women were not allowed to register to vote. My own mother, my own father, my grandfather and my uncles and aunts could not register to vote because each time they attempted to register to vote, they were told they could not pass the literacy test.

When I was growing up in rural Alabama, it was impossible for me to register to vote. I didn't become a registered voter until I moved to Tennessee, to Nashville, as a student.

I grew up in rural Alabama, 50 miles from Montgomery, in a very loving, wonderful family: wonderful mother, wonderful father. We attended church; we went to Sunday school every Sunday.

It's not just Barack Obama, but I doubt Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton would have made it to the White House without Selma.

The March on Washington was a March for Jobs and Freedom. There are still too many people who are unemployed or underemployed in America -- they're black, white, Latino, Native American and Asian American.

I think Dr. King would be pleased to see the number of elected officials of color -- African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and progressive whites.

I was honored to have an opportunity to speak on August 28th, 1963.

You have to be optimistic in order to continue to move forward.

When I was 15 years old in 1955, I heard of Rosa Parks. I heard the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. on our radio.

People come up to me in airports, they walk into the office, and they say, 'I'm going to cry; I'm going to pass out.' And I say, 'Please don't pass out; I'm not a doctor.'

I am very, very hopeful about the American South -- I believe that we will lead America to what Dr. King called 'the beloved community.'

You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.

We're one people, and we all live in the same house. Not the American house, but the world house.

I couldn't say no to A. Philip Randolph and no to Martin Luther King, Jr. These two men, I loved them, I admired them, and they were my heroes.

You have to tell the whole truth, the good and the bad, maybe some things that are uncomfortable for some people.

The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.

It's a shame and a disgrace that so few people take part in the political process.

What 'March' is saying is that it doesn't matter whether we are black or white, Latino or Asian. It doesn't matter whether we are straight or gay.

There are still forces in America that want to divide us along racial lines, religious lines, sex, class. But we've come too far; we've made too much progress to stop or to pull back. We must go forward. And I believe we will get there.

We come to Selma to be renewed. We come to be inspired. We come to be reminded that we must do the work that justice and equality calls us to do.

The vote controls everything that you do.

Some of us gave a little blood for the right to participate in the democratic process.

Following the teaching of Gandhi and Thoreau, Dr. King, it set me on a path. And I never looked back.

Many young people, many children, are being abused, being put down, being bullied because of their sexual orientation.

Too many people struggled, suffered, and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.

I believe race is too heavy a burden to carry into the 21st century. It's time to lay it down. We all came here in different ships, but now we're all in the same boat.

What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and its grounded with love and a sense of community, you can make the impossible possible.

We need some creative tension; people crying out for the things they want.

When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.

We must continue to go forward as one people, as brothers and sisters.

Early on, I wrote a letter to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was 17. I felt called, moved.

I'm very hopeful. I am very optimistic about the future.

In the past the great majority of minority voters, in Ohio and other places that means African American voters, cast a large percentage of their votes during the early voting process.

My parents told me in the very beginning as a young child when I raised the question about segregation and racial discrimination, they told me not to get in the way, not to get in trouble, not to make any noise.

We must bring the issue of mental illness out into the sunlight, out of the shadow, out of the closet, deal with it, treat people, have centers where people can get the necessary help.

There's nothing wrong with a little agitation for what's right or what's fair.

Now we have black and white elected officials working together. Today, we have gone beyond just passing laws. Now we have to create a sense that we are one community, one family. Really, we are the American family.

If someone had told me in 1963 that one day I would be in Congress, I would have said, 'You're crazy. You don't know what you're talking about.'

The government, both state and federal, has a duty to be reasonable and accommodating.

Quotes by John Lewis are featured in:

Happy Quotes
Short Inner Peace Quotes

Cite this page:

APA Style Citation:

MLA Style Citation:

Link Back to Us: (preferred, thank you!)

Thank you for citing us - and thank you for sharing our quotes and quotepics - spread the joy - we appreciate it!

We wish you a perfect day!