Lewis explained that Ferguson could be a “turning point” for the modern civil rights movement. He told Martin if justice is not served in the Michael Brown case, there could be nationwide protests.
When asked if Ferguson could be “the modern day Selma,” Lewis said the following:
Selma was the turning point. And I think what happened in Ferguson will be the turning point. I think people are waiting, they’re watching, and we’re going to see within the next few days what’s going to happen and that would be massive, nonviolent protests all over America.
When we were beaten on that bridge in Selma, people couldn’t take it, for they saw it, they heard about it, they read about it, and it lit a sense of righteous indignation. When we see a miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, they’re going to have the same reaction they had towards Selma.
Rep. Lewis also offered some advice to the protesters in Ferguson saying, “Be like a pilot light and not like a firecracker. A firecracker just pops off and it’s gone. A pilot light will continue to burn.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of the headline to this article did not accurately describe Rep. Lewis’ remarks about possible protests in Ferguson. As can be seen in the quote above and heard in the audio clip, which are unchanged, he described a possibility, and did not call for protests.