tv Representative John Lewis Accepts Elie Wiesel Award CSPAN May 8, 2016 11:30am-12:06pm EDT
>> ladies and gentlemen, please the museum chair. [applause] good evening everyone. it is an honor to be here. i want to express my thanks to all of you for being here. i want to especially thank this evening's chairs. and the washington community. my home community for this fantastic shows or, the museum, and its campaign. i and the sun of holocaust survivor. and i'm also bless. i just celebrated with my parents their 70th wedding
anniversary. i grew up during the 1950's and 1960's. two events that i most remember from my early life where the legacy of the holocaust and the ongoing struggle for civil rights. in fact, one of the unforgettable moments of my new jersey childhood was witnessing firsthand the heart of all race in 1967.ewark so tonight, these two strands of my life come together as we anor congressman john lewis, very special american. [applause] a very special human being.
as my parents would say, a true mench. my parents had been in this country less than 20 years when the civil rights movement began. thatwere probably unaware the knots is often justified their anti-semitism was not much different from american racism. nor did they realize that american soldiers who liberated europe and liberated them, were part of a segregated u.s. army. 1960's, the in the holocaust taught us urgency of speaking out. so it was not surprising that several of the jews most active in the civil rights movement had links to the holocaust. activists, a rabbi of
berlin slant to the united states in 1937. one ofd go on to become the planners of the 1963 march on washington. and spoke immediately before martin luther king gave his "i have a june speech". in his remarks that day, the ofbi said when i was a rabbi the jewish community of berlin, under the hitler regime, i learned many things. the most important was that not theand hatred are most urgent problem. the most urgent, the machine full, and the most tragic problem is silence. would recall the march on washington as the greatest religious experience of
his life. so what made that march possible? what animated the civil rights movement that so powerfully challenge our country to live up ls and reshape our nation? it was the singular leadership of a very few brave, very dedicated men. overused, but tonight we honor a true here. sharecroppers, as john lewis pursued his education, he studied religion as well as the philosophy and techniques of nonviolence. with his fellow students, he participated in lunch counter sit ins, freedom rides, and demonstrations. 23, remember that
is 23, he was recognized as one leadersig six liters -- of the civil rights movement. indoor and endless harassment and humiliation and repeated beatings. sunday,ing on bloody when his skull was broken as the marchers stopped. imagine knowing that your peaceful demonstrations would lead to brutal attacks by angry mobs. and yet demonstrating over and over again. let's take a look at this remarkable man. [video clip]
>> when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just , you have a moral obligation to do something. in 1961, college senior john lewis wrote the letter which would catapult him to the center of the civil rights movement. he volunteered to join the freedom rides, challenging segregation across the deep south. >> i know that an education is important. and i hope to get one. but at this time, human dignity is the most important thing in my life. that justice and freedom might come to the deep south. i felt happy. i felt liberated. i was like a soldier. in a nonviolent army. i was ready.
we were beaten. the first freedom riders meant violent resistance. the second wave of riders knew they were stepping into a firestorm. i was left lying there in a pool of blood. >> the horror of what was occurring, these were americans who are doing this to other americans. >> i never had any sense of hate towards the people. never become bitter. just tried to be hopeful.
to be optimistic. to never give up. >> at only 23, john lewis was the youngest organizer and beaker at the historic 1963 march on washington. [applause] these remarks from the spirit of love. limitsarch 7, 1965, it helped him beat a group of 600 orderly protesters across the bridge and some alabama. it would become known as bloody sunday. these images awaken the conscience of the nation. an entire generation would rally
for justice and equal rights. on august 6, 1965, the voting rights act was signed into law. i think of someone like john lewis, i'm reminded that courage is not a one-time thing. his bravery in selma during the civil rights movement is obviously what stands out. but, that is part of a broader, more deeper vein of courage that runs to his light. -- throughout his life. >> you can see it and realize it through john lewis. >> called the conscience of the congress, is devoted himself to the advancement of human dignity and human rights. are human.rgument --
in we all must be involved the problems and issues that confront our fellow human beings . we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. we cannot afford to be silent. [applause] >> and other activist of the civil rights movement was rabbi eshel whooshua ha fled the notches and lost much of his family and the holocaust. he became a prominent leader of the civil rights movement, marching on the front lines with martin luther king, with whom he shared a deep devotion to religious faith. once wrote, it was easier
for the children of israel to cross the red sea then for a negro to cross certain university campuses. he boldly challenged the jewish community to do more. saying we must act. human interest, human self-interest is often our nemesis. it is the audacity of faith. that redeems us. that iith great pleasure get to invite up to the podium rabbi henschel's daughter who chairs the jewish studies program at dartmouth college and serves on the reasons committee on ethics, religion, and holocaust to deliver a tribute to her father's great friend john lewis.
[applause] >> we are gathered together this evening during the national days of holocaust remembrance and we want to pay tribute to you, congressman john lewis. we honor you with an award in the name of our extraordinary eisel.d witness, elie w we honor you during these days i commemorate the horrors of the holocaust. but also, our survival and jewishation of -- as the people. we present this award to you in tribute to your courage, your moral leadership, your work in congress. for your devotion to the ongoing struggle for justice in this country. you represent one of the central lessons of the united states holocaust memorial museum.
never to beget, indifferent. two other people suffering. lewis.r you congressman and we also thank you. and the other leaders from the civil rights movement for the duration you brought to america. -- the inspiration you brought to america. you and your fellow civil rights leaders inspired so many jews young, and all to take heart in situ incidence -- ins. you welcomed our participation in the movement and many young jews rediscovered with pride the jewish prophetic tradition. the civil rights movement arose just a few years after the end of the war.
barelyjews were just starting to recover from the horrors of hitler. father, rabbi abraham joshua has shown, came to this country as a refugee from nazi europe. his mother and three of his sisters and his extended family were all murdered. my father had been a student in when somethe 1930's german theologians were proclaiming that the old testament should be thrown out of the christian bible. and that jesus was not a jew but an arian. their racist frenzy, they did not even recognize their own defamation of christianity. imagine then what my father thought when he came to this country and met martin luther gians whon theolo
revered the god of abraham. , moses, the exodus. the hebrew bible was at the heart of the civil rights movement. and that was what helped restore our wounded souls after the war. with theirprophets, they taught that god's greatest concern is with widows and orphans. marketplace,in the with the impoverished and the in society. the one verse that appears more often in the bible than any other is god's command remember you were slaves in egypt. do not mistreat the stranger in your midst, love your neighbor
as yourself. racism is satanism. , my father proclaimed. racism is idolatry. unmitigated evil. our yiddish newspapers in america at the turn of the century had headline screaming with heart over the lynching -- with horror over the lynching of thousands of african americans in this country. this is the land of freedom. how can there be racism in america, the land of the? -- of the liberty? it is unthinkable. they declared that our history at as blacks and jews are bound together. let us know one another's history. and be each other's ally.
we draw inspiration from you, congressman lewis. for speaking out forcefully on behalf of jewish concerns and we thank you. campaign thatmer lived forze dr. king of mr.nths at the home jackson. and on the morning of that aired march, mrs. jackson told me she woke up in the morning and went into her living room, and there was dr. king standing in one corner saying his morning prayers, and in another corner of the living room was my father . and then in the dining room there was a catholic praying. moment is also what the civil rights movement accomplished. bringing us together in prayer.
congressman lewis, you write in your memoir walking with the wind, that there is an old african proverb. when you pray, move your feet. and indeed, my father embodies that african robert when he returned from selma he said, i felt my legs were praying. crow untilys of jim today, this day that michelle alexander has rightly called the era of the new jim crow. an era of mass incarceration that is destroying the families, the far too many african-americans. you congressman lewis conrad have made -- have maintained your resilience with your hard work in congress to transform the dream of justice into the
reality of a better america. you write in your memoir, we pray because we believe that pray can make will we believe our dreams and our visions, country. retention will not come -- redemption will not come to one group of people alone. but only to all of us at once. forwe must work together each other's hopes and dreams, and keep alive the extraordinary we forged ased -- jews and blacks in the 1960's. at that day be this day. -- let that day be this day. let us share insight and learning. let us give one another courage to persist, despite the terrible
predicaments we face. speak prophetically to one another. let us speak with a moral grandeur and spiritual audacity to believe that the promise of god and doors forever. forever.s amen. [applause] thank you susanna. what a wonderful tribute to congressman lewis. is one thing to speak about theressman lewis and act on past. but most importantly, his legacy continues to shape the future. that future depends on young people. now it is my pleasure to a graduatevan jones,
of the museum's loot -- youth leadership program. today evan's executive director of the mid-peninsula wars and girls club in san francisco. -- boys and girls club in san francisco. [applause] good evening. i have the honor tonight of museumnting over 750 ambassadors across the country. we are from every race, religion, and culture. yet bound to the lessons of the holocaust teaches, and the man we honor tonight exemplified. the power to make a difference. enough to be the last generation of students in bc public schools whose teachers were african-american women grown up in psycho -- in segregation. civil rights leaders like john
lewis were their heroes and became ours as well. by high school, i personally explain its racism, after that, what inspired me most about the civil rights movement was their nonviolence. so far this part of my story is expected. what is totally unexpected, was how the holocaust impacted my life. i was 17 when i first walked into the museum. it felt like i was walking into a holy place. survivors who transformed how i view the world. they had experienced such more and had every right to be better. but they were not. i was overwhelmed by their spear, their courage, their determination, no matter how painful. to share their stories again and again in the hope that sharing can make the future different from their past. education is more than what
happens in school. allowed us to learn not only about holocaust history, but to learn about ourselves. who we were as people. and who we could become. that we could become people like john lewis. i have brought these lessons to 2000 underprivileged undulate serve every year at the boys and girls club. they needed to ration. and the tools and resilience to deal with the chine -- with the challenges they face every day. what is a holocaust survivor or a john lewis if not resilient? model for the type of responsible, caring, productive citizens that we are trying to create. what my heroes here tonight teach is the part of citizenship we tend to forget. it is not just about your rights. it is about irresponsibility. for that, i'm forever grateful.
>>'s nobel except in speech could have been written precisely with you in mind. and i quote, one man of integrity can make a difference. the inscription on your metal reads to representative john lewis, for your extraordinary moral and physical courage. and enduring commitment to promoting human dignity. congressman lewis. [applause] [applause]
>> good evening. i want to thank you board of trustees and the united states holocaust memorial council for this award. as well as the museum director. honor to bereat medaling this precious named for a man that have admired and loved for many years. met morehat i have than one occasion. i will cherish it.
for years to come. weisel. , when you seeier something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to speak up. to speak out. and find a way to get in the way. when i was growing up in rural alabama, 50 miles from montgomery, outside of a little place called troy, i would see those signs that said white men, women, man, white colored women. i would come home and asked my mother, my father, my grandparents, my great grandparents, why? they would say that is the way it is. don't get in the way. don't get in trouble. bible, i read the
story about the children of israel. i heard those songs. the music inspired me. the words inspired me. old, i 1955, 15 years , i heard ofa parks martin luther king jr.. i never rosa parks in 1957 at the age of 17 and the fear at the age of 18 i met martin luther king jr.. and i've never looked back. father,my mother and my they would say boy, that is the way it is. don't get in the way, don't get in trouble. but i got in trouble. it was good trouble. necessary travel. necessary travel.
we all must continue to get in trouble. i have visited the holocaust museum on more than one occasion. or me it is hard, it is unbelievable, it is unreal what appened to a group of people, group of human beings. and it must never, ever happen again. never, never again. [applause] movement,il rights rabbi met and walked with herschel. hundreds anda thousands of young jewish students and adults who marched on washington. many rabbis came to selma.
were taken from jail and turned over to the clan. shot,they were beaten, and killed. and their bodies were discovered. six weeks later. , buried under a mound of dirt. it was a hard and difficult time for the civil rights movement. in the south, and our country, in america, temples and .ynagogues we didn't give up. we did not give in. the faith. and we kept our eyes on the prize. and there are forces in america hate, and we of must never hate. for hate is too heavy a burden to bear.
as we were planning the margin 1963,gton, on august 20, maybe our foremothers and forefathers all came to this great land in different ships. but we are all in the same boat now. we must look out for each other and help each other. and during this political anythinge must not lie or anybody to turn us around, for we are one people, we are one family, we live in the same house. not just american house, but the world has. thank you tonight -- world house. like you tonight for this great thank you tonight for this great honor. [applause]
>> this weekend the c-span cities tour takes you to san bernardino, california to ask for the history and literary culture of the city. 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were celery injured in a terrorist attack at the end when regional center in san bernardino. congressman the about the attack in the recovery efforts by the committee. when you talk about terrorism, when we talk about the fight against terror, it is not something that is in the abstract anymore. something that across this country means something. because this is in a big city here in san bernardino that was attacked. this could happen anywhere. we also talked about establishing a permanent memorial for the victims. provides extensive
remembrance. it highlights their lives. what they contributed to our local community. be artainly always will near and dear place for us. we are keeping a serenity garden, a prayer chapel. on american history tv, we will visit the san bernardino history and reverent museum, and talk about the importance of the railroad to san bernardino. located in the 1918 santa fe depot, a museum contains many objects related to the city's railroad history. >> construction was completed in 1918. every placed the wooden approximately was 100 yards east appeared that burn in 1960. toy decided