Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was overcome with emotion during a recent visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
Lewis, a civil rights icon who led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and orchestrated sit-ins throughout the 1960s, joined former Barack Obama adviser David Axelrod at the center for a conversation about his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.
An audio exhibit there helps visitors to try to get a sense for the brutal harassment endured during the nonviolent protests against segregation.
“How painful is it to hear those scenes?” Axelrod asked Lewis after the congressman listened to the audio.
Lewis was overcome with emotion, covering his face with his hand as he fought back tears before saying, “Surreal. It is real, exactly what happened.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.