...our suffering would be redemption.

Charles Marsh: Is it possible you think, to describe the spirituality of the theology of the Civil Rights Movement in any kind of way? And I think a sort of parallel examples of, let's say, the resistance against Hitler in the 1930's and theologians like Bonhoeffer and Barth who really developed a theology of the cross that they used to combat...

John Lewis: I think if you look at the group of young people, I think Dr. King, first of all, ...that he saw everything grown out of this religious being, really, but I think many of us that got caught up in the Civil Rights Movement saw it as participating, saw it as an extension of our religious faith, saw it as part of our religious conviction, part of our very being. Somehow, in some way, we saw this as being a part of, being in tune with what I would call the Spirit of God. Some people maybe will call it the spirit of history or some force, but I think many of us felt we were in tune with the Creator. That we were in tune with the teachings of Jesus. And many times we were asked the question if...the great majority of young people, and many not so young, were deeply motivated and involved out of a deep seated religous conviction. Because when I look back on it, the only way we could have been able to do it, [it] had to be out some deep seated religious feeling. To go and sit in at a lunch counter knowing that you'd never done it before, you'd never been in a situation like this before; the possibility that you are going to be beaten or [they will] light a cigarette that will be put out in your hair or down your back or someone will hit you or you could be shot or killed or arrested and jailed. But you had to go on. I think for many of us, it was like being involved in a holy crusade and at the same time, we had to be persistent to follow this path, to be consistent and persistent, knowing that something may happen to us. Knowing that we even may die, but you know, it was the price that you had to pay and that if we died, that our suffering would be redemption.

» Go to excerpt page