Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis doesn’t think much of Bernie Sanders.
After the Congressional Black Caucus’ PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton, a reporter tried to ask Lewis about Bernie’s civil rights activity, but the veteran Congressman wasn’t having any of it:
Well, to be very frank, I’m going to cut you off, but I never saw him, I never met him. I’m a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.
There’s no question that John Lewis was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement and paid a steep price for it on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Yet somehow I don’t think Lewis met the Clintons between 1963 & 1966. Bill Clinton was working for the segregationist Senator William Fulbright as a clerk while young Hillary Rodham was the President of the Young Republicans at Wellesley. I think it is reasonable to say that Lewis did not meet the Clintons until somewhere around the mid to late 1970’s.
Faulty memory aside, it isn’t surprising that Lewis is endorsing Hillary. He said he would do so in August 2013. Mind you, he initially supported in Hillary in 2008, but switched to Obama when he started gaining momentum. Perhaps he wanted to assure Hillary he wouldn’t switch again. Well, Lewis has certainly made his feelings on the subject clear this time around.
It is saddening (though not surprising as I shall explain shortly) to hear that Lewis would denigrate Bernie’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. While a student at the University of Chicago, he was involved with the Congress of Racial Equality and their efforts to desegregate Chicago’s public schools and would organize a campus sit in to protest segregated housing at U of C. Does John Lewis believe that desegregation of public schools and housing to be an unworthy cause? If that is the case then Lewis is not only denigrating Bernie but tens of thousands of other young people who also tried to right a wrong.
If I were to hazard a guess, I think it is less about Bernie’s civil rights involvement than Bernie himself. Bernie has been on Capitol Hill for 25 years and Lewis for nearly thirty. So they know each other. I’m guessing that Lewis just doesn’t like Bernie personally and perhaps the feelings are mutual. He certainly drinks from the cup of bitterness whether it’s likening John McCain and Sarah Palin to George Wallace (mind you he said this after McCain said that Lewis was one of the three Americans he most admired), falsely accused Tea Party activists of shouting racial epithets at him at the height of the Obamacare debate and suggested that electing Mitt Romney would result in white mobs wantonly beating up black people at bus stations. And while Lewis hasn’t compared Bernie to George Wallace, accused him of uttering racial epithets or suggested his election would result in violence against African-Americans, it is clear he has little respect for Bernie and has now seen fit to publicly direct his bitterness towards him. For shame.