John Lewis' Pivotal "This Is It" Moment at the March on Washington

Season 6 Episode 608
Aired on 01/15/2017 | CC tv-pg
When 250,000 people marched on Washington, D.C., in 1963 to rally for African-Americans' civil and economic rights, a young John Lewis, the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and one of the event's organizers, was one of the individuals tapped to take center stage at the event alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lewis was only 23 years old at the time, but he would stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that day to deliver a rousing speech to his peers.

The gravity of that history-making moment was not lost on the future congressman. "I looked to my right. I saw hundreds and hundreds of young people who had been involved during the early days. Looked straight ahead, I saw this sea of humanity. Then, I looked to the left. I saw young black men and young white men up in the trees, trying to get a better view," U.S. Rep. Lewis recalls. "I said to myself, 'Well, this is it,' and I looked straight ahead again. And something said to me, 'Go for it.'"

Watch part of the civil rights icon's moving speech in the clip above.