WASHINGTON — Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, endorsed Joe Biden for president Tuesday, saying the former vice president will inspire another generation “to speak up, to speak out, to be brave, to be bold.”
“It is my belief that we need Joe Biden now more than ever before,” Lewis, D-Ga., told reporters. “He will be a great president. He will lead our country to a better place. He will inspire another generation to stand up, to speak up and to speak out. Be brave, to be bold. That’s why I’m committed to supporting him.”
In an interview with NBC News’ Craig Melvin airing later this morning on “Today,” Biden calls Lewis “one of my heroes,” praising his courage and sacrifice in the fight for civil rights, especially as part of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.
Biden said: “The fact that he would endorse me is just — it makes me even more certain that I should be doing what I’m doing. I’m a great, great admirer of John Lewis. He’s a man of enormous integrity.”
Georgia has delayed its primary until May 19 because of the coronavirus outbreak. Although he was diagnosed December with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, Lewis said he was committed to traveling across the country to rally support for Biden.
“We need his voice. We need his leadership, now more than ever before. We need someone who will get our country on the right side of history and help save our planet,” he said
As vice president, Biden joined Lewis in 2013 in celebrating the 48th anniversary of the Selma voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He also paid tribute to Lewis at a separate commemoration of the march in Selma this year.
Lewis’ backing comes as Biden has a commanding delegate lead over his only remaining challenger for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, but with many states — including Lewis’ home state, Georgia — having delayed their primaries. Still, it underscores what has been Biden’s greatest asset in arriving at this position — the overwhelming support of African American voters.
Asked whether Biden should pick a woman of color as his running mate in light of that support he’s enjoyed, Lewis said it “would be good to have a woman,” as Biden has already pledged to choose.
“We have plenty of able women — some are black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native America,” he said. “I think the time has long passed for making the White House look like the whole of America.”