Congressman John Lewis earned national recognition as a black, teenage activist who has long inspired many in his fight for civil rights, including 16-year-old actress Yara Shahidi.
Shahidi, who stars in the hit ABC show ‘black-ish,’ is a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and an activist in her own right. This is why she was the perfect candidate to meet with and interview Lewis on his journey for justice during a special interview she conducted during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The video interview, which was arranged by the Hillary Clinton campaign and provided to The Huffington Post, shows the two talking about the lessons Lewis learned during the height of the civil rights movement and advice he has for today’s new, and growing, crop of civil rights activists.
“I got involved [in the civil rights movement] when I was very young,” Lewis told Shahidi. “I met Rosa parks when I was 17, I met Dr. King at 18 and by the age of 19 I was sitting in at lunch counters and restaurants and was elected as the chair of SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] in 1963 at the age of 23.” Lewis was later elected into Congress in 1986 and has since served as the U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.
Through his work, and his words, Lewis’ has motivated many young black activists to speak up about issues of injustice, almost in the same way black power figures of generations past have helped to empower him.
“Rosa Parks and Dr. King and others inspired me to get in the way, to get in, what I call, ‘good trouble, necessary trouble,’” Lewis said to Shahidi, with a smirk.
His relentless activism has positioned Lewis as a distinguished civil rights legend who has always preached lessons in protest that promote peace and non-violence.
“Vot[ing] is the most powerful non-violent instrument or tool we have in our democratic society and we must use it,” he said. “Our struggle is not a struggle that lasts for a few days, a few weeks, a few months or a few years. It is a struggle of lifetime and we must never, ever give up. We must be hopeful.”
Shahidi, who displayed great confidence with whip-smart questions throughout the interview, also asked Lewis to weigh in on this year’s presidential election and his endorsement of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
“She has a good heart and she is a good person. She would not let us own. That’s why I’m supporting her,” Lewis told Shahidi. “I deeply believe that she will lead us to another place where no one will be left out or left behind.”
Watch the full interview in the video above.