CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rep. John Lewis used his Thursday convention speech to argue that a GOP victory in November will send African-Americans back to the early 1960s, when he and other Africans-Americans were forcibly denied access to restaurants, public transportation and the ballot box.
“I’ve seen this before, I lived this before,” he claimed, after extensively describing his activism in Southern states in the 1950 and 1960s.
“We were met by an angry mob that beat us and left us lying in a pool of blood,” he said to raucous applause from roughly 20,000 delegates and activists.
“Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back?” he called, prompted a loud response of “No!”
“Or do you want to keep America moving forward?” he asked Sept. 6 to raucous applause from roughly 20,000 delegates and activists.
Lewis’ speech echoed Vice-President Joe Biden’s August warning to African-Americans “they’re gonna put y’all back in chains.” (VIDEO: Rep. John Lewis: America would be better off if GOP let Obama succeed)
There is no evidence that GOP politicians plan to enslave or segregate African-Americans. Historically, the GOP was established in the 1850s to helped destroy slavery, which it did under the first elected Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.
To help win some support from African-Americans, Republican nominee Mitt Romney has argued he can spur the economy and boost the employment and wealth of all Americans. He has also promised to expand charter-schools for African-Americans who want better inner-city schools for their kids.
Lewis’ speech was partly intended to rally African-Americans to vote for Obama, despite the stalled economy which has increased their unemployment rate.
Lewis also argued that Republican legislators are trying to suppress voting by African-Americans.
“Too many people struggled and died … [and] we have come to far together to ever turn back,” he said. “We must not be silent. … We must march to the polls like never ever before.”
The event was scheduled to be held in the nearby 74,000-capacity Bank of America football stadium, but was relocated to the 20,000-capacity basketball arena.