Prominent civil rights leader John Lewis attempted to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ civil rights record by claiming he never saw the socialist candidate at anti-racism rallies during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
Sanders was an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and attended the March on Washington in 1963, but Lewis disputes that fact.
"I never saw him, I never met him. I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years -- 1963 to 1966," he said on Thursday. "I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery. I directed the board of education project for six years. I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton."
Lewis’ remarks coincide with the Congressional Black Caucus PAC’s endorsement of Democratic establishment candidate Hillary Clinton, as both candidates compete for voters of color and sorely try to out-progressive each other.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-M.N.) tweeted that the PAC’s endorsement of Clinton did not speak for all members of the CBC, since only 20 board members of the PAC actually voted on the endorsement.
Cong'l Black Caucus (CBC) has NOT endorsed in presidential. Separate CBCPAC endorsed withOUT input from CBC membership, including me.— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 11, 2016
The point it that endorsements should be the product of a fair open process. Didn't happen. https://t.co/SRdFkTup3C— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) February 11, 2016
According to The Intercept, “The board includes 11 lobbyists, seven elected officials, and two officials who work for the PAC. Branch confirmed that the lobbyists were involved in the endorsement, but would not go into detail about the process.”
Social media users were divided on the civil rights icon’s harsh condemnation.
Some users were disappointed in Lewis’ statement and suggested that there is a large possibility he didn’t meet every person involved in the movement. They also noted that Lewis could not have met Clinton during that era of the civil rights movement—at the time, Clinton was a young student volunteering for Barry Goldwater, a Republican who wanted to “re-segregate” America. Sanders was actually arrested for his involvement.
I thank John Lewis for everything he's done for me, but throwing shade at people in the civil rights movement he didn't meet is just wrong!— BernieCantBeBought (@QuinnDaGhost) February 11, 2016
This whole "you can't question John Lewis because he's a civil rights legend" thing is dangerous. Very dangerous.— Melech E. M. Thomas (@MelechThomas) February 11, 2016
Yet others sided with Lewis and chastised Sanders’ supporters for allegedly accusing a man beaten for his crucial actions against injustice of “selling out.”
Some people are really disrespecting John Lewis' entire civil rights career in order to "take up" for their candidate... ridiculous.— LizzLocker (@Lizzs_Lockeroom) February 11, 2016
The nerve of someone to call John Lewis a sellout. John Lewis. Who was nearly beaten to death in Alabama. That guy. A sellout. Come on now.— Heisencurved (@TheCoolTeacher_) February 11, 2016
It will certainly be interesting to see how this battle over Sanders’ civil rights records will be addressed during tonight’s Democratic debate.
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