Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis Responds To Limbaugh's Gun Claim: We Chose Non-Violence

Blog ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

Rep. John Lewis corrected Rush Limbaugh's misrepresentation of the civil rights movement, responding to Limbaugh's suggestion that Lewis would not "have been beat upside the head" during the march to Selma if he had had a gun.

Earlier on Friday, Limbaugh had asked on his radio show, "If a lot of African-Americans back in the '60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma?" He continued, "If John Lewis, who says he was beat upside the head, if John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?"

During the 1965 march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery in support of voting rights for African-Americans, state troopers beat the unarmed protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Lewis suffered a concussion.

Responding to Limbaugh today, Lewis said in a press release:

"Our goal in the Civil Rights Movement was not to injure or destroy but to build a sense of community, to reconcile people to the true oneness of all humanity," said Rep. John Lewis.  "African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.  We were convinced that peace could not be achieved through violence.  Violence begets violence, and we believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means.  We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.

"And that is why this nation celebrates the genius and the elegance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s work and philosophy.  Through the power of non-violent action, Dr. King accomplished something that no movement, no action of government, no war, no legislation, or strategy of politics had ever achieved in this nation's history.  It was non-violence that not only brought an end to legalized segregation and racial discrimination, but Dr. King's peaceful work changed the hearts of millions of Americans who stood up for justice and rejected the injury of violence forever."

Full press release from Lewis' office:

In an effort to encourage people to resist new gun control legislation, a statement was made on The Rush Limbaugh Show today which misrepresents Civil Rights Movement history.  In the shadow of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, in the year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in August, and a little more than a month before the annual celebration of the events in Selma, Rep. John Lewis was glad to address this inaccuracy.

"Our goal in the Civil Rights Movement was not to injure or destroy but to build a sense of community, to reconcile people to the true oneness of all humanity," said Rep. John Lewis.  "African Americans in the 60s could have chosen to arm themselves, but we made a conscious decision not to.  We were convinced that peace could not be achieved through violence.  Violence begets violence, and we believed the only way to achieve peaceful ends was through peaceful means.  We took a stand against an unjust system, and we decided to use this faith as our shield and the power of compassion as our defense.

"And that is why this nation celebrates the genius and the elegance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s work and philosophy.  Through the power of non-violent action, Dr. King accomplished something that no movement, no action of government, no war, no legislation, or strategy of politics had ever achieved in this nation's history.  It was non-violence that not only brought an end to legalized segregation and racial discrimination, but Dr. King's peaceful work changed the hearts of millions of Americans who stood up for justice and rejected the injury of violence forever."

WHAT HAPPENED IN SELMA ALABAMA?

On March 7, 1965, 600 peaceful nonviolent Civil Rights workers attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama.  The march was led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams.  They were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by Alabama state troopers who beat the unarmed marchers.  Lewis suffered a concussion on the bridge.  A few days after the march President Lyndon Johnson introduced a bill to the Congress which became the Voting Rights Act of 1965, described as one of the most effective pieces of legislation Congress has issued in the past 50 years.  An important section of the Voting Rights Act is currently in jeopardy and will be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in February.  

Posted In
Race & Ethnicity, Guns
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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