"When he [Obama] was born, people of color couldn't register to vote in many quarters of the deep South," he said. "They had to pass a literacy test, stand in unmovable lines, some people were beaten, jailed and some were even killed."
"But look where we are," Lewis said. "Through the struggle, through the suffering, through the beatings, through the jailings, through so many deaths. We have now come the distance to elect a black man president of the United States of America."
Many of Martin Luther King Jr.'s family will also be in the crowd on Tuesday, including King's eldest and only living sibling, Christine King Farris, 81; and his daughter, Bernice King.
"We're there to be present for our parents and witness this significant milestone in American history," Bernice King told ABCNews.com.
"It gives me a great deal of joy to know that my parents were part of the movement that let this day be possible," she said.
"It's the dawning of a new day in America and represents a new beginning for African-Americans where the excuses that we have used in the past, of race as a hindrance to achievement, we cannot use anymore," King said.
On Monday the Congressional Black Caucus is hosting an interfaith religious service commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and Obama's inauguration.
Rev. James Forbes of Manhattan's Riverside Church, who struggled alongside King to protest segregation, staging sit-ins at lunch counters, will lead the prayer.
Forbes said Obama's inauguration is the fulfillment of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
"Dr. King spoke of the prospect of 'getting to the mountaintop,' which meant that the conditions of justice for poor people and people of color will be realized," Forbes told ABCNews.com, "It feels almost as if this is the fulfillment of his prophecy."
Poet and author Maya Angelou, who became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1960s at King's request, will be watching the inauguration on television from her home in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"I will be following every step, every nuance, every shade and shadow of the inauguration," Angelou told ABCNews.com.
"I'm there wholeheartedly, I'm just not there physically, but there is nothing holding me back except for the fact that I'm 80 and I have various medical restraints," she said.
Angelou said it is fitting that Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday will be celebrated the day before Obama's inauguration.
"It's as if the angel of time said, 'let me make this absolutely the best of times,'" she said, "To have all of the music, and all of the young people, young black boys and young white boys and young Asians saying 'I have a dream!' on the Monday, and to cinch it, fix it in just the proper way, we have the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president."
Angelou, who wrote and read an original poem for former President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993, said Obama's inauguration tells us that we are growing up as a nation.
"We are growing up beyond the idiocies of racism and sexism. It takes a long time. But we are growing up," she said.
One man who will be sitting in one of the front rows as Obama delivers his highly anticipated inaugural address is Tuskegee airman John Harrison Jr., of Philadelphia.