Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

John Lewis

I don't know whether I will be able to control myself [at the Inauguration]. I will be on the platform, and I'm going to try to keep my balance and not have what I call an out-of-body experience. I want to be able to see down the Mall and past the Washington Monument and get a glimpse of the Lincoln Memorial, where we stood 45 years ago.

When we were organizing voter-registration drives, going on the Freedom Rides, sitting in, coming here to Washington for the first time, getting arrested, going to jail, being beaten, I never thought — I never dreamed — of the possibility that an African American would one day be elected President of the United States. My mother lived to see me elected to the Congress, but I wish my mother and father both were around. They would be so happy and so proud, and they would be so gratified. And they would be saying that the struggle, and what we did and tried to do, was worth it.


TIME talks to John Lewis

Download | Subscribe

See pictures of how Obama's election energized the heart of the civil rights movement.