Legendary Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of America’s foremost moral leaders whose work since the civil rights movement of the 1950s made him a national treasure, has formally endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
The 80-year-old congressman, who on March 7, 1965, was badly beaten as he helped to lead over 600 peaceful protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, said that Biden was the person to lead the country back on the right side of history.
“I am very pleased and very happy to take the time to endorse a friend, a man of courage, and a man of conscience, as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” Lewis said Tuesday on a media call in which major news outlets from around the country participated, including the Black Press of America.
“We need Joe Biden more than ever before,” Lewis added.
The widely respected congressman said America needs Biden at the helm.
“He’s a man of courage, great intelligence, and a man of faith,” Lewis said. “He will be a great president, and he will lead our country to a better place, and he will inspire another generation to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, to be brave and bold, and that’s why I’m committed to supporting him.”
When asked by NNPA President and CEO Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. what is his vision of a Biden presidency, Lewis said the former vice president would “be able to redeem the soul of America.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re white, Asian American, Latino, male, female, straight or gay. We all live in the same house, the same boat,” he said. “We must be able to live together as brother and sister, and Joe Biden will not be afraid to stand up and preach the way of love and preach the fact that we must respect the dignity and the worth of every human being. He can, and he will help us regain our was as a nation and as a people.”
Born the son of sharecroppers on Feb. 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama, Lewis grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama, according to his biography.
As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he decided to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.
“I grew up in rural Alabama, just miles from Montgomery in a town called Troy. Growing up there, I saw signs that said white men, colored men, white women, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting,” Lewis reminisced. “My grandparents said ‘don’t get in trouble, don’t get in the way.’ Then I heard a Rosa Parks. I listened to the voice and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The actions of Rosa Parks and Dr. King inspired me to get in what we called good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Lewis pledged to rally younger African Americans to the polls.
“My message is simple. If you look around, you have a choice,” Lewis said. “You must decide to get out there and vote like we’ve never voted before. Young people, college students, and high school students old enough to vote, you must vote.
“I saw people arrested and beaten and jailed when attempting to register to vote,” he said. “When we marched in Selma, more than 600 of us were beaten and jailed when we attempted to register. I gave a little blood on that bridge. I almost died. So, young people, just go out and vote and help elect a man of conscious, a man who will look out for each and every one of us and help build a society where no one will be left behind because of race color of skin and gender.”