Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights icon, reflects on youth, comics and Dr. Martin Luther King

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Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon, visited Chicago. (WLS)

An ABC7 Eyewitness News Exclusive
U.S. Congressman John Lewis was in Chicago Thursday with his new comic book. He visited a youth detention center and spoke exclusively with ABC7 Eyewitness News.

ABC7's Leah Hope was invited along Lewis took his message about Civil Rights to local young people who have been in trouble with the criminal justice system

Lewis witnessed the world change, and at 78 years old continues to lead on issues facing the nation currently.

Recently his focus has turned to young people who may have been lost in the shuffle.

"They just need a chance. You should never ever give up on a person," Lewis said.

Lewis invited ABC7 to go with him to the Illinois Youth Center, a detention facility for 13-17-year-olds.

"These young people are gifted and smart, they just need a helping hand," he said.

Those young people were focused on every word Lewis spoke.

"I wrote a letter to Dr. King when i was 17-years-old," Lewis told them. "Dr. King wrote me back and sent me a round-trip Greyhound us ticket."

Some of the young people at the center, and some who are part of their post-release program, have been learning about Civil Rights in the book Lewis co-authored, called "March."

Lewis said when he was a child, he was inspired by a comic book edited by King.

"It changed my life. It taught me the way of peace, it taught me the way of love, and philosophy, and discipline, and I've not looked back since," Lewis said.

Some of the young people shared an original performance they created with Storycatchers Theatre, which has a program that offers skills and support though performing arts.

Lewis urged the young people to be bold, to be courageous and never give up on their dreams.
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