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Civil rights icon John Lewis encourages Bennett Belles to vote


Congressmen G.K. Butterfield (District 1) and John Lewis stand with Kathy Manning, Democrat candidate for U.S. Congress (District 13) at Bennett College’s Pfeiffer Chapel. Photo by Ivan S. Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker[/caption]

“The vote is the most powerful, nonviolent tool for a democratic society, and we must use it,” said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, renowned civil rights leader and representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, at a voter rally held at Bennett College in Greensboro on October 19. Lewis attended the rally with fellow U.S. Reps. Alma Adams (District 12), G.K. Butterfield (District 1) and Democrat congressional candidate Kathy Manning (District 13) on October 19.

Lewis urged the crowd to do their part to vote early, and then work to get other voters to the polls.

“We must go out here and do our part. We’ve got to vote. We cannot stay home. We cannot run and hide. Here in this district we have a responsibility to send Kathy Manning to the U.S. House of Representatives,” he said .

“There are forces in America today trying to take us back to another time, to another place. As a people we’ve come too far to go back,” said the congressman, who also spoke at a voter rally at Fayetteville State University earlier that day.

Serving as the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district since 1987, Lewis recounted the 1963 March on Washington, and reminded rally attendees that Dr. King and many others fought and died for the right to vote. Lewis was also joined at the rally by state Senator Gladys Robinson, and Greensboro Mayor Pro Tem/ At-large Greensboro City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson.

U.S. 13th Congressional District candidate, Kathy Manning (D) is challenging Republican Ted Budd for the seat.

“You in this room have the power to change the future. And if you don’t think that your vote matters, let me remind you that when President Obama won North Carolina in 2008, he won by an average of two votes per precinct,” said Manning.

If elected, she noted that her top priorities in Congress would be focused on the economy, reducing student debt and creating access to affordable healthcare.

“As a mom, a business person, a community leader, I have been disheartened to see what’s been going on in Washington. I know we need to bring people together to make this the best possible place to live, work and raise our families. We can’t afford to sit out this election. We are on the brink of change,” Manning said.

U.S. Rep. Adams (D-NC12) represented the 13th Congressional District for two years before redistricting maps in 2010 reshaped boundary lines, and moved her into the 12th District. She stressed the importance of taking the time to vote on the legislators who will make decisions on behalf of constituents.

“Bennett Belles have always been involved in social justice and in this community. Our country is standing at a crossroads right now. And you, Bennett Belles, have always made the difference. Get out and vote. You don’t change policy until you change policymakers,” Adams said.

Following the rally, Lewis, along with Manning and other Democrat leaders took a caravan of Bennett College students and rally attendees to the Brown Recreation Center to vote. Lewis later posted to Twitter:

“I have been beaten, my skull fractured, and arrested more than forty times so that each and every person has the right to register and vote. Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Get out there and vote like you’ve never voted before.”

Nia Watson, a senior Journalism major at Bennett College said hearing Rep. Lewis speak made her feel like she was capable of being apart of positive change in the community.

“This was invigorating. It uplifted my spirits. Our ancestors sacrificed so much and paved the way for us to have this opportunity to vote. I feel like I’m doing something greater than myself,” said Watson.

Early Voting is open now until November 3. Election Day is November 6.

For more information on voting in Guilford County, visit