Congressional Black Caucus PAC

Rep. John Lewis on Thursday’s Congressional Black Caucus PAC Press Conference

February 13, 2016

“We are facing a crossroads in the history of our country. The choices we make in this election will determine the very future of our nation. Will we go back or continue to more forward toward the building of a more perfect union? As we move through this competitive campaign season, we must respect each individual's sacred right to choose, whether we like a person's decision or not. That is our democracy in action, a process in which we have all committed to participate. But at the end of the day, we must unite and determine to work together to ensure a Democrat becomes president in the fall.

"In the interest of unity, I want to clarify the statement I made at Thursday's news conference.I was responding to a reporter's question who asked me to assess Sen. Sanders' civil rights record. I said that when I was leading and was at the center of pivotal actions within the Civil Rights Movement, I did not meet Sen. Bernie Sanders at any time. The fact that I did not meet him in the movement does not mean I doubted that Sen. Sanders participated in the Civil Rights Movement, neither was I attempting to disparage his activism. Thousands sacrificed in the 1960s whose names we will never know, and I have always given honor to their contribution.

"If you take a look at a transcript of my statement, you will find I did not say that I met Hillary and Bill Clinton when I was chairman of SNCC in the 1960s. My point was that when I was doing the work of civil rights, led the Voter Education Project and organized voter registration in the South in the 1970s, I did cross paths with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the field. They were working in politics, and Bill Clinton became attorney general of Arkansas in the 1970s as well. That began a relationship with them that has lasted until today.

"We, as a party, must remember we have a great need to work together. We must not get lost in hostility and discord. After all, it was not the Democrats who sponsored and defended Citizens United, who are making it harder to register and vote, or are working to privatize Social Security,get rid of Obamacare, Medicare, food and income supports for the poor, the hungry and more.We should debate the issues vigorously, but we must not tear each other apart and damage our ability to unite and defeat the Republican nominee for president.”