As a teenager in south Alabama, Lewis had heard a radio broadcast of Martin Luther King’s sermon, “St. Paul’s Address to American Christians,” and was struck by the contrast between the Pike County preachers of his childhood, who spoke of the pearly gates of heaven and the streets paved with gold, and Dr. King, who spoke of Jesus alive and active on the highways and byways of America. John Lewis was drawn to Dr. King’s theme of “redemptive suffering” to describe his willingness to sacrifice life and well-being for the sake of justice, a deliberated suffering that “opens us and those around us to a force beyond ourselves, a force that is right and moral, the force of righteous truth that is at the basis of human conscience.”
In November of 1993, Charles Marsh sat down to interview the legendary civil rights hero John Lewis. You can read the full interview here.