On March 7th, 1965, 600 of us lined up to walk from Selma to Montgomery, to march for voting rights.
When we tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, we were met by state troopers. They attacked us with tear gas, bullwhips, and nightsticks.
It became known as Bloody Sunday, and the national outcry over the brutality that day led to the enactment, exactly 45 years ago today, of the Voting Rights Act.
The progress we've made since then is remarkable.
But the expansion of voting rights for millions did not happen overnight. It was the product of a continued struggle, by many people, over many years.
And just as change did not come easily then, it does not come easily now.
Discrimination still exists in America -- its effects can be as harmful as they were decades ago. And we can always become a better, more just society.
Two years ago, this movement -- led by Barack Obama -- brought millions of people into the political process for the first time.
I'm told that many of you are working hard now to get as many as possible of those folks -- and others from across the country who are with us in these fights -- to the polls this year.
It's an important effort, and the legacy of the fight for the Voting Rights Act is that it is not only our right to vote, and to help others do so -- it is our duty.
Can I count on you to help out between now and the elections in November?
When I was a child, I tasted the bitter fruits of racial discrimination -- and I did not like it.
That was what spurred me to act. In those early days, we sacrificed our very selves for our rights as Americans. But we never gave up.
And now barriers that kept an entire people from full participation in this country have been removed.
No longer are people who look like me met with violence when we register to vote.
No longer is the idea that an African American could become president just a dream.
We live in a better world, a better country.
But our work is not complete. We cannot wait for someone else to make change.
We must all do it. You must do it. I must do it.
Please sign up to help millions more vote:
Representative John Lewis