WASHINGTON – Saying "I know racism when I see it," Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, condemned recent tweets by President Donald Trump's that told four congresswomen of color to "go back" to their countries,
Lewis, D-Georgia, made the comment on the House floor ahead of a vote on a resolution condemning Trump's tweets, which invoke a racist trope. The House voted 240-187 to denounce Trump's tweets as racist, with only four Republicans and one independent voting with Democrats.
"I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of our government, there's no room for racism," Lewis said ahead of that vote.
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Over the weekend, Trump told four Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their own countries. Although he did not name the lawmakers, many believe the president was talking about Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
Since then, Trump has repeatedly doubled down on his attacks on the four Democrats and denied his tweets were racist. The four congresswomen, known as "The Squad," held a press conference Monday and called Trump's remarks "racist," "xenophobic," and "bigoted."
Lewis, who --as a young man -- helped organized the March on Washington in 1963, said the world is "shocked and dismayed" by Trump's comments. He added, that some have been victim of "the stain, the pain and the hurt of racism."
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"In the 50s and during the 60s, segregationists told us to go back," he said. "We protested for our rights. They told ministers, priests, rabbis and nuns to go back. They told the innocent, little children, seeking just an equal education, to go back. As a nation and as a people, we need to go forward and not backwards."
"With this vote, we meet our moral obligation to condemn hate, racism and bigotry in every form," he concluded.