Barack Obama Sits Down With John Lewis to Discuss MLK’s Legacy and the Power of Activism

“When you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something.”

Former President Barack Obama recently joined Rep. John Lewis and a group of high school students for a roundtable discussion on Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy and the moral necessity of social justice movements today.

In a six-minute video released Wednesday, on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s death, Lewis revealed how he coped with the devastating news of King’s assassination. He also shared that one of his life’s greatest regrets was not having spent more time with King. “I thought he’d be around a long time,” Lewis said in a poignant moment.

Obama and Lewis also shared advice with a student who asked about the benefits and risks of being controversial.

“If you are speaking on behalf of social justice, then by definition there’s going to be some controversy, because if it wasn’t controversial, then somebody would have already fixed it,” Obama said. “Dr. King was controversial, but he studied and thought and crafted what he had to say.”

“I said to young people especially students, when you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, say something,” Lewis added.

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

WE'RE TAKING A SHORT BREAK…

from the big banner at the top of our pages asking for the donations that make Mother Jones' nonprofit journalism possible. But we still have upwards of $300,000 to raise by June 30, whether we get there is going to come down to the wire, and we can't afford to come up short.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please join your fellow readers who pitch in from time to time to keep our democracy-advancing, justice-seeking journalism charging hard (and to help us avoid a real budget crunch as June 30 approaches and our fiscal year ends).

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate