Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was about to enter his Capitol Hill office on Wednesday afternoon when a tourist from Miami rushed up to him.
“I was watching Barack last night, and I just kept thinking, ‘What would Dr. King think?’” the tourist, Larry Ellery, told Lewis expectantly.
As the only living person to have spoken at the lectern the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, Lewis was perhaps the best person to answer a question that occupied the minds of many Americans.
Lewis touched Ellery’s arm and paused.
“He would have been very, very pleased,” Lewis said. “He probably would have said, ‘Hallelujah!’”
On Capitol Hill, as across the country Wednesday, African-Americans reflected on Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s historic rise as the first black presidential nominee to lead a major political party. They noted that only a few decades ago, African-Americans were fighting across large swaths of the South for basic human rights, hardly pondering the possibility that one of them might soon lead the country.
Many black lawmakers said they were elated at Obama’s victory.
Many said they never thought such a day would come.
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