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Rep. John Lewis inspired by people standing against injustice: 'We're going to make it'

The Civil Rights icon said the nation's current climate is familiar to him.

On the day of George Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis, Georgia's Congressman John Lewis talked about race and injustice on the 3rd hour of TODAY show.

Lewis, a Civil Rights icon, said the nation's current climate is familiar to him. Protests, marches, and rallies are being held in the U.S. in Floyd's honor and to push for change to break the cycle of systematic racism. 

"When I said to myself, 'seems like I've been down this road before,'" he explained.

However, he mentioned that he's inspired by seeing different races and ethnicities come together.

"Men, women, people with different backgrounds from all over America and all over the world, it gives me hope. As a nation and as a people, we going to get there. We're going to make it. We're going to survive and there will be no turning back."

"There may be some setbacks, there may be some people who stand in our way," Lewis said. "But we will not not go back. We've come to far and we're not going to give up now."

RELATED: 'You changed the world George,' Rev. Sharpton says at Floyd's memorial service in Minneapolis

Floyd died in police custody last week after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for minutes. The encounter was captured on video and sparked outrage across the nation. Chauvin, along with the three other officers who were also involved, in the incident were fired.

"It made me so sad, it made me cry to see what was happening to this person of color or to any human being," Lewis said.

Credit: Hennepin County, MN Jail
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane

Since then, Chauvin's charges have been upgraded to second-degree murder. The others, Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. 

"I think it sent a message that we will not give up on justice, that we will not give up on fairness," he said.

During the interview, NBC's Al Roker, asked Lewis about what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would make of what we are seeing today. He said, he would be proud of people coming together. 

Lewis announced last year he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He told Roker Thursday he's been following doctor's orders and he's feeling well.

RELATED: Chauvin charges elevated to 2nd-degree murder in Floyd's death, 3 other officers charged

The activist has a documentary that will be released called "John Lewis: Good Trouble."

"When I was growing up in rural Alabama in the 40s and the 50s and would see those signs that said white men, colored men, white women, colored women and I would ask my mother, my father my grandparents 'why, why this,' they would say, 'boy, don't get in trouble, don't get in the way.'"

However, he said Dr. King inspired him to get into what he called "good trouble."

"And I've been getting in good trouble ever since," he explained. 

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