POLITICS

John Lewis Says He Still Has Visible Scars From The Selma Marches

03/06/2015 04:26 pm ET | Updated Mar 06, 2015

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) says he still bears the physical scars from his involvement in the civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 50 years ago.

During an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" airing Sunday, the 75-year-old, 14-term congressman recalled his experience of crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge with other protesters on March 7, 1965.

"Well, the physical scars are still visible. When I go back, I -- remember, the bridge for me is almost a sacred place. 'Cause that's where some of us gave a little blood and where some people almost died," Lewis said.

While sharing his memories of Bloody Sunday, the day Alabama state troopers beat and fired tear gas at numerous protesters, Lewis said, “They started beating us with nightsticks, tramping us with horses and releasing the tear gas. I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick. I lost consciousness.”

"That bridge -- what happened on that Sunday have changed America forever," Lewis said.

Lewis is the chief organizer of a return-to-Selma event hosted annually by the Faith and Politics Institute.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches, and it is reported that no member of the House GOP leadership will attend the commemoration.

"I wish we had someone in the [Republican] leadership going," Lewis told Politico.

"President [George W.] Bush is going to be there, but I think it would have been fitting and appropriate for them to make the trip," Lewis said.

Lewis is one of the few living political leaders who was active in the civil rights movement. President Barack Obama said Friday that he has "a framed program of the original March on Washington. And John Lewis is the only person on that speaking program who’s still alive."

Watch Lewis above.

  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Marchers on the way to Montgomery as families watch from their porches, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Young civil rights marchers with American flags march in Montgomery, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Two mothers with children watching marchers, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Man with American flag and marchers walking past federal troops guarding crossroads, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to 25,000 civil rights marchers in Montgomery, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Nuns, priests and civil rights leaders at the head of the march, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Three generations of women with children watching civil rights marchers, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Looks out at crowd in Montgomery, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    "Things Go Better With Coke" sign and multi-generational family watching marchers, 1965.
  • Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society
    A family watching the march, 1965.
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