The term “civil rights” covers all social justice issues, and Rep. John Lewis, an ally to the LGBT community, has literally taken body blows for equality. Today it is almost unthinkable that we’re talking about the basic right to vote and the incessant attacks on the right to disenfranchise voters they believe will not cast their ballot for Republicans. Apparently they realize that they cannot win on merit or policy scrutiny, so voter suppression and disinformation is the way to go.

Via Democracy Now:

We broadcast a special, 1-hour interview with U.S. Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, former chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a critical figure in the civil rights movement. Marching for the right of all Americans to vote, Rep. Lewis risked his life alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was among the speakers at the 1963 March on Washington. Rep. Lewis also helped to organize Freedom Rides and campaigned for Robert Kennedy for president. He has just written a new book titled, “Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change.”

In this extended interview, Rep. Lewis recalls many moments of personal struggle, including the day in 1964 when he and other African Americans were arrested for attempting to register to vote. Today, 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that could shape the 2012 election, including the vital swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania.

“That’s why it is so important for people to understand,” says Rep. Lewis, “to know that people suffered, struggled. Some people bled and some died, for the right to participate. You know, the vote is the most powerful non-violent tool that we have in a democratic society. It’s precious; it’s almost sacred. We have to use it. If not, we will lose it.”