"As a participant in the civil rights movement, I can tell you the road to victory will not be easy. Some of us were beaten, arrested, taken to jail, and some of us were even killed trying to register to vote. But with the nomination of Senator Barack Obama tonight, the man who will lead the Democratic Party in its march toward the White House, we are making a major down payment on the fulfillment of that dream," said Lewis, who was brutally beaten marching in Selma, Alabama.
Lewis urged attendees to do everything they can to elect Obama.
"On November 4th, we must march in every state, in every city, in every village, in every hamlet; we must march to the ballot box. We must march like we have never marched before to elect the ext President of the United States, Senator Barack Obama."
Setting the stage for the marquee speech of the Democratic National Convention was an Obama campaign "unity" breakfast with black leaders Thursday morning.
About 500 black delegates, civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice King and the Rev. Al Sharpton, as well as celebrities like Oprah Winfrey's best friend Gayle King and actors Cicely Tyson, Lou Gossett Jr., Alfre Woodard and Blair Underwood, gathered for breakfast in Denver.
"I hope I can remain upright in my chair," King told ABC News of Obama's speech Thursday night. "When people say 'I have a dream' today, I say my dream is coming true," she said. "I knew this day would come and I still know it."
Oprah caused a stir when she walked through the stadium, briefly stopping by the ABC News workspace to say hello to ABC's Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and David Westin. "She wouldn't miss it," Gayle told ABCNews.com earlier of Oprah.
For many civil rights advocates, the day was charged with emotion.
"It reminds me of my youth," said Maude Beavers-Barker, 73, now a California resident who organized bus loads of grass-roots volunteers from Milwaukee to Washington in 1963 to march with King and hear him speak.
"I'm in awe today," she said of Obama's nomination.
Other prominent African-Americans at the breakfast expressed disbelief.
"I'm numb, I'm absolutely numb," Tyson told ABCNews.com. "I never ever dreamed that in my lifetime I would be witnessing this."
The Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a civil rights leader, told ABC News that he was at the march in 1963 several feet from the platform and looking directly in the face of King when he made that historic address. Moss said the day could not be more fitting.
"Sen. Obama represents the very thing that Dr. King articulated not only in that speech but in his entire life and work," Moss said.
Firing up the crowd, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Coalition for the People's Agenda, said Obama doesn't have to be a civil rights leader between now and November.
"He can go ahead and be president and leave the agitating to us," he said to cheers in the crowd.
"The most important thing he can do for the nation is get elected," Lowery said.
Bernice King also brought the crowd to its feet, arguing that despite Obama's historic accomplishment, her father's work is far from done.
"He declared that he may not get there with us," she said, "and we are on our way to the promised land but we are not there yet and our next step is unity."