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Civil Rights Legend Honored at Museum Celebration

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Civil Rights Legend Honored at Museum Celebration
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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker Speaking, Cong. John Lewis to the left
Desare Frazier

Civil Rights Icon John Lewis says his visit to Mississippi's Civil Rights Museum has energized him and brought him to tears.

Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, is a legend in the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1960's, he led the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee which launched Mississippi Freedom Summer to register black voters. He was a Freedom Rider who helped desegregate bus travel. Lewis helped lead the march across Alabama's Edmond Pettus Bridge, where police fractured his skull. He's the only surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. Lewis says touring the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum was emotional.

"Walking through the museum made me cry. I saw pictures and images of people that I got to know that I worked with, that I struggled with, that I loved," said Lewis.

The 74-year old was in Jackson this weekend to be honored at a gala and other events celebrating the museum's opening. Lewis was to be recognized at the officials opening in December. But he chose not to come after learning President Trump would be attending. The two have criticized each other in the media. Lewis says images of Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and others in the museum energized him to continue the fight for human rights.

"Sometime I feel like I'm reliving my life. I thought we had conquered that problem. But you see the ugly head of racism rising. It's not dead," said Lewis.

At a symposium U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey talked about John Lewis' love for his country.

"He shows his patriotism with his hands at work. He shows his patriotism with hands that give. Ladies and gentlemen this is my hero. This is my model. He's a humble man. He's an imperfect man. But everyday he gets up and says 'I love America.' " said Booker.

Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson was also honored over the weekend with the Chairman's Award at the gala.