Rep. John Lewis and several of his Democratic colleagues broke down in tears during a closed-door meeting Tuesday after a historian described the congressman’s reaction when he saw his great-great-grandfather’s voter registration card for the first time.
The House Democratic caucus invited Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr., who heads the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, to preview a new film on reconstruction. Gates spoke about Lewis’s appearance on his PBS show, “Finding Your Roots,” researching the Georgia lawmaker’s family tree and presenting him with his ancestor’s voter card from 1867.
During reconstruction, African Americans were briefly allowed the benefits of full citizenship, including voting and holding seats in Congress.