Congressman John Lewis
John Lewis is an American hero and a giant of the Civil Rights Movement. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helped to organize the first lunch-counter sit-in in 1959 at the age of 19, and was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. IBTIMES

Donald Trump is facing a backlash over comments he made about civil rights hero, Congressman John Lewis.

Georgia Democrat, Lewis, who commented on 13 January that he did not see Trump as 'legitimate' due to Russian hacking in the US election, today bore the brunt of the president-elect's wrath.

Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Lewis, who is viewed by many as a civil rights hero.

The president-elect wrote in a series of tweets: "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!"

But Trump's comments about Lewis and the majority-black district he represents have been widely criticised, particularly coming as they do over the weekend marking the birth of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., NPR reported.

Lewis' original comments came during an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, when he said he would not be attending Trump's inauguration.

"I believe in trying to work with people," Lewis said during the interview. "It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."

His sentiments, shared by several other Democrats, who said they would not be attending the 20 January ceremony, prompted the outburst from Trump – but his social media takedown of Lewis may have backfired on him, given the respect Lewis commands for his role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and later.

Lawmakers have tweeted their support for Lewis, with house minority leader Nancy Pelosi writing: "Ahead of ‪#MLKday2017, let us remember that many have tried to silence ‪@repjohnlewis over the years. All have failed," and Elijah E. Cummings stating: "To my dear friend & Brother ‪@repjohnlewis: thank you for taking action to make this country better."

Other social media users made their support for Lewis clear, with some suggesting Trump showed more respect to Russian president Vladimir Putin than he did to a US hero.