Lewis not ready to 'give up or give in'

ATLANTA --- Civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Tuesday he's running for office again.

John Lewis: U.S. House member will run again for the Atlanta district seat he has held since 1986.   Associated Press
Associated Press
John Lewis: U.S. House member will run again for the Atlanta district seat he has held since 1986.

The longtime Georgia Democrat told the Atlanta Press Club he was "not in any way tired" and wants to again stand for his Atlanta district, which he has represented since 1986.

"The people in this district have been very, very good to me, and I have tried to be good to the people," said Lewis, the longest-serving member of the state's congressional delegation. "I'm not prepared to give up or give in. I am prepared to work."

Lewis was a prominent civil rights activist long before going to Congress. He joined the Freedom Riders in May 1961, riding interstate buses in a push to get the federal government to enforce a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting segregation in bus stations. Along the way, they were arrested, fined and attacked by mobs.

Two years ago, Elwin Hope Wilson, one of the gang of men who smashed in Lewis' face at a Rock Hill, S.C., bus station, visited the congressman in Washington to apologize for the beating.

"He started crying. He gave me a hug," Lewis said. "I hugged him back, and I started crying."

Lewis told stories of the bus rides during his speech Tuesday at the Commerce Club in Atlanta. He talked of one black rider who was arrested for trying to get his shoes shined in a whites-only waiting room at a bus station. The charges were dismissed the next morning, he said.

Lewis was recognized in February for his bravery during the civil rights era when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

He said Tuesday that his family encouraged him not to join the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to fight for equal rights for blacks, but he ignored their pleas.

"Dr. King inspired me to get in the way and to get in trouble," Lewis said.

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pimpernell 04/27/11 - 01:38 pm
Mr. Lewis has certainly

Mr. Lewis has certainly succeeded in following the words of his mentor.
He has gotten in the way and made trouble for lo these many years.

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