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Civil rights hero John Lewis on GOP voter suppression: 'I've lived this before'

In a fiery and passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Rep.

In a fiery and passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Rep. John Lewis, an American civil rights hero who was beaten while fighting segregation, ripped the Republican voter suppression efforts that disproportionately affect minorities.

"Today, it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials trying to stop some people from voting," he said referring to GOP officials across the country who are pushing laws that would require all voters to produce a specific current government-issue photo ID before casting a ballot.

"I've seen this before, I've lived this before. Too many people struggling, suffering and dying to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote," the Georgia Republican said to a cheering audience.

"We have come too far together to ever turn back. So Democrats, we must not be silent. We must stand up, speak up and speak out. We must march to the polls like never, ever, before," he declared. 

After his speech, Lewis told msnbc's Andrea Mitchell that Republicans were "trying to take us back to another period."  He added it would be an "affront" to all those who suffered and even died during the Civil Rights era if such voter suppression laws are enforced. 

When Mitchell asked if there was a connection that the disenfranchisement efforts are coinciding as the first African-American president seeks another term, Lewis responded, "It is a systematic, deliberate effort on the part of some forces in our country to win this election, or steal this election, before it takes place. I'm convinced of that. There's no such thing as widespread voter fraud in any part of our country."