Bill Moyers & Rep. John Lewis Revisit Crucial Moments of the March on Washington

Marking the event's 50th anniversary, Lewis -- the famous day's last surviving speaker -- sits down for a rare extended conversation on Moyers & Company.

Lewis talks about his commitment to nonviolence, and reveals parts of his fiery speech that never made it to the podium

Jul 18, 2013, 11:00 ET from Moyers & Company

NEW YORK, July 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Two icons of the 60's civil rights era -- Bill Moyers and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) -- meet to share experiences and revelations about the momentous March on Washington, which they both attended 50 years ago. Their discussion, which will air the weekend of July 26 on Moyers & Company and on, takes them to the spot in front of the Lincoln Memorial where Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and others famously spoke of freedom and justice. While there, Moyers and Lewis attract the attention of schoolchildren, and field their spontaneous questions.

The March on Washington is largely remembered for Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, but Lewis, who was 23 at the time, shares new insight into how the event unfolded -- including the last-minute drama over his own manuscript.

"Some people thought the speech was a little too radical, a little too militant," Lewis tells Moyers. "But when I look back, there was not anything militant or radical about the speech. It was a lot of words, a little rhetoric -- but we were demanding action."

Lewis talks about his continuing dedication to nonviolence and brotherly love, and recalls standing behind the podium, shoulder-to-shoulder with heroes of the movement that galvanized momentum behind both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

"To look out and see the best of America, convinced me more than anything else that this is the product, this is the work of the movement," Lewis says. "Sometimes you have to not just dream about what could be -- you get out and push and you pull and you preach. And you create a climate and environment to get those in high places, to get men and women of good will in power to act."

Threading rarely-seen documentary footage into their conversation, Moyers shares his own memories of the day, and how the messages of hope and determination resonated with President Lyndon Johnson, for whom Moyers served as press secretary and a key adviser.

Moyers tells Lewis, "What struck me about the speeches that morning was that they weren't just about segregation. They were about an egalitarian vision of America, white and black, that was part of the social gospel all of you seemed to be preaching."

The must-see episode will air on public television stations across the country beginning July 26. (Thirteen/WNET in New York will carry Moyers & Company at 6:00 pm ET on Sunday and again at 10:00 p.m. ET on Monday.) Moyers & Company is presented on public television by WNET in New York and distributed by American Public Television (APT).

Joel Schwartzberg

SOURCE Moyers & Company