Rep. John Lewis talks skipping Trump's inauguration, Charlottesville and his experience in the civil rights movement

Lewis told "The View" Martin Luther King Jr. "would have taken the same position I did" on not meeting with Trump.
3:00 | 01/15/18

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Transcript for Rep. John Lewis talks skipping Trump's inauguration, Charlottesville and his experience in the civil rights movement
Use as directed. ??? Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. Led the charge in the civil rights movement, but he couldn't have accomplished so much without one man who stood by his side with him, congressman John Lewis. Take a look. The son of share croppers in Troy, Alabama, John Lewis grew up surrounded by the racism and discrimination of the segregated south. As a young boy, the words of Dr. King and actions of Rosa parks inspired him to devote his life to fighting racial injustice. And it's a life he risked time and time again. Arrested over 40 times. He endured severe beatings from mobs and police while standing alongside Dr. King on the frontlines of the events that defined the civil rights era. He was a keynote speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. Where Dr. King first told the world he had a dream. And he helped spearhead one of the vent that is led to the passage of the act of 1965. The March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama that would be known as bloody Sunday. Since king's assassination in 1968, John Lewis took his activism into topom ticks and after three decades in congress he never stopped fighting to make the dream of equality a reality. Please welcome congressn John Lewis. We don't do that for everybody. Thank you. Welcome to "The view." Thank you very much. Delighted to be here. We're thrilled. Thank y'all for having me. You know, we thought it would be important to talk to you especially today. Because when you see what's happening in places like charlottesville, are we seeing history repeating itself? Are we in danger of really making the slide backward or is there a correction to be made? Well, what happened there made me very sad. I cried. I don't want to go back. I want to go forward. I want to continue to be part of an effort to make America one. Where we lay down the burden of race. The burden of hate. And create one society. One people. We all live in the same house. The American house, the world house. And we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, as Dr. King would put it, or we would perish as fools. Now, you were part of the inaugurati inauguration, I remember this. You didn't go to that and you skipped a civil rights museum opening because trump was going to it. I certainly can feel -- I feel it too. I don't want to be anywhere near him. But there's an argument to be made that, you know, can you pass up an opportunity to actually have a conversation with the guy because he is in a particularly powerful position at the moment? What do you think? Well, I felt strongly during the inauguration, the so-called inauguration. Yeah. That I couldn't be at home with myself. If I had to participate or be part of it. The movement taught us to withdraw from evil. Uh-huh. And I never felt that his election was legitimate. Uh-huh. Yes. I'm with you. On this. Dr. King's daughter Bernice thinks her father would have met with trump if he were alive. Do you agree with that? I knew her father very, very well. Yes. I met him when I was 18. I first heard of him when I was 15. Uh-huh. And meeting him working with him and getting to know him, I think he would have took the same position that I took. Really? He would not have met with him? Do you agree with me? I said that trump wouldn't have won if Dr. King were alive. Do you think that's true? I agree with you. You agree? Yeah. If martin Luther king had been alive, no, Dr. King would have been able to lead us to a different place. Our country would be different. Completely. And the world community would be different. Well, we still have hope that -- You have to be hopeful. You have to be optimistic. I'm very hopeful and optimistic. I got arrested 40 times during the '60s. Five times in congress and I'm probably going to get arrested again for something. But not today. But not today. But when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something. To say something. To speak up and speak out. How do we get this kind of courage? Because I will tell you, you know, it freaks me out that we are -- found ourselves grasping up to pull ourselves back up. How do we do it? How do we do this? Before we participated in the sit-ins and on the freedom ride or before we March first responder Selma to Montgomery, we study, we prepared ourselves as young people, as students, as adults. So someone would spit on you, poured hot water, hot coffee. Hot chocolate. Called you everything but a child of god. You just kept your cool. And you hold your head high. You stand with dignity. Or you kneel with dignity. And pride. How is it that you're not an angry person? You cannot become angry. You cannot become bitter or hostile. Dr. King taught us never to hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bare. Have the ability to forgive. I almost died in Montgomery during the March from Selma to Montgomery. I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious. Had a concussion there. But I'm still here. Woo. I just have to say it's just so incredible to just hear you speak and from the place of which you speak and coming from the generation I remember martin Luther king day was a holiday and learning about it. It had already been a holiday by the time I had gotten to school. Just learning about him and his legacy and to sit across from somebody who stood side by side with him is an incredible moment for me to just sit here and learn from you. But I should probably ask my question. I'm sorry. But this April will mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. What memory of Dr. King has stuck with you the most after all this time? When I first met him, the first time I met him, I wrote him a letter when I was 17, he wrote me back. I wanted to attend a little school 10 miles from my home. So he sent me a round trip greyhound bus ticket. I took the bus 50 miles from Montgomery to a town called Troy. A young lawyer -- or took me into the office where he stood with his colleague. He said are you the boy from Troy? Are you John Lewis? I said Dr. King, I am John Robert Lewis but you still call me the boy from Troy. And when he spoke, he spoke to my heart. And to my soul. I love this man. He taught me how to stand up. To speak up and speak out and not to be afraid. And I felt that when he was assassinated that something died in America. And something died in all of us. Yes. And this country had not been on the right path since. It's been off since then. We got to get back on track. We will. We will. That's why we must never give up. That's right. Or give in or become bitter or hostile. But keep the faith and keep our eyes on the prize. Thank you. I want to try, I want to try to be better. Going to try to be better sir. Keep try. I will. I will. I will. Thank you. Please come back. Thank you. Any time. Thank you for having me. I would love to come back. Oh, eplease do. We would like that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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