Congressman John Lewis recalls terror of 'Bloody Sunday'

John Lewis
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Fifty years ago this weekend, John Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia, co-led more than 600 voting-rights protesters toward the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, though, marchers were met by police who attacked the crowd when it refused to turn back.

"They came towards us, beating us with night sticks, trampling us with horses, releasing the tear gas," Lewis told a gathering on Saturday at the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, the same place where he took refuge as the young chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. "I thought I was going to die on that bridge. I thought I saw death."

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