Congressman John Lewis Speaks at Voorhees College

Denmark, SC (WLTX) -- The 1960s will always be remembered for the Civil Rights movement, when many in our county fought for equality.

U.S. Congressman John Lewis, D-Georgia, was at the forefront for much of that, and was both sent to jail and suffered attacks for what he believed in.

He was at Voorhees College Tuesday, speaking to students as part of an event celebrating Black History Month for the school.

"You must never, ever give up," Lewis said as he made his impassioned speech.

He spoke to a packed auditorium of mostly students, though faculty and members of the public were also invited.

"I want students to understand that the struggle is an ongoing struggle," Lewis said in an interview with News19 after the speech.

During the "Freedom Rides," he was beaten at a bus station in Rock Hill, S.C., in May 1961, and again in March 1965 as he led hundreds of marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in what came to be known as "Bloody Sunday."

"You never forget where you came from," said Elroy Johnson a senior at the school and president of the Senior Class from Virginia. "When I was listening to Rep. Lewis speak, it really hit home."

According to Lewis, part of the future of Civil Rights includes immigration reform and same-sex marriage.

Civil Rights equality is for every body," Lewis said. :You cannot have equality for some, and not for all. One thing about the civil rights movement , it opened up the process."

Students also heard from Voorhees College President, Dr. Cleveland Sellers.

In 1968, three black men were killed by South Carolina State Police after protesting segregation at a bowling alley. In what is now known as the "Orangeburg Massacre" that happened days later, Sellers was wounded and sentenced to jail for starting a riot.

Sellers said he brought Lewis in to speak to students to increase their education, part of what he said was the next Civil Rights front.

"You must keep your faith and keep your eyes on the prize," Lewis said in his speech.


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