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Posted under: News Race & Identity

Rep. John Lewis Breaks Down As He Relives Racist Terror Faced During Sit-In

The civil rights activist calls the hatred he experienced 'surreal.'

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While speaking with CNN's David Axelrod, Congressmen John Lewis of Georgia got emotional after listening to a depiction of the racial terror he endured during a sit-in when he was a young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist.

During a July 14 appearance on The Axe Files, Lewis and Axelrod visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta where Lewis relieved some of the most devastating racism he faced. The iconic activist sat down at an interactive lunch counter exhibit where he listened to a man hurl racist vitriol at protesters.  

Lewis removed his headphones and looked shaken to his core. “How painful is it to hear those scenes?” Axelrod asked before Lewis began to cry. “Surreal. It is real. Exactly what happened,” Lewis replied.  

"We have come a distance. We made progress," he said. "But there are forces in America trying to slow us down or take us back,” Lewis told Axelrod during Friday's broadcast. 

Watch the clip below.

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