- Observers say Rep. John Lewis spent 15-20 minutes among the crowd
- Many travelers posted selfies with Lewis to Twitter and Instagram
(CNN)Most politicians aren't treated like celebrities. But most politicians aren't Rep. John Lewis.
The US congressman, fresh off his feud with President Donald Trump, landed Monday night at Washington's Reagan National Airport, where he was met with a swarm of adoring, selfie-seeking crowds chanting "Thank you!" and "Yes we can!"
Lewis, who spent inauguration weekend at home in Atlanta, was one of dozens of Democratic lawmakers who boycotted Trump's swearing in. The boycott was sparked in part by Trump calling Lewis, a widely respected leader of the civil rights movement, "all talk" and "no action" last week after Lewis said Trump was not a "legitimate" president.
People at the airport were mystified at first by the ruckus.
"We were waiting for our flight to Seattle and kept hearing a roar of applause that was coming in huge waves," said Zach St. John.
"He (Lewis) was pretty much immersed in a crowd for the whole time he was in the terminal," St. John told CNN. "He was very nice and shook everyone's hand and took pictures with anyone who wanted it."
"We didn't see him say a word," added Elaine Hendrix, the actress and animal rights activist, who was there with a group of friends after attending the Women's March on Washington. "So many people were hugging him, touching him and taking pictures. There were smiles, tears and a great deal of joy."
But not everyone was happy to see the congressman.
Erika Hubbard, on her way home to Los Angeles after attending Saturday's march, said a few Trump supporters were visibly irritated with all the chanting. "One guy kept yelling, 'No you can't!'" she said.
But Lisa Eng-Sarne, who was in town for the march from St. Paul, Minnesota, said Lewis' arrival was a powerful moment. She could hear the cheers continuing as the congressman made his way through the terminal.
"It was incredible and inspirational," she said. "I'm glad I was able to see it."