New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker may have broke tradition with his decision to testify against Republican colleague Jeff Sessions during the latter’s confirmation hearing, but Wednesday’s testimony by the Congressional Black Caucus was dominated by Georgia Rep. John Lewis. The noted civil rights icon, who made headlines for his involvement in the House Democrats’ sit-in over gun control, rendered the calls of countless protesters rather eloquently with a speech reminding the committee of the country’s checkered past.
Much of Lewis’ testimony included recollections of his experiences with the American Civil Rights Movement during the early 1960s. Yet it was his concluding remarks about Sessions’ “smile,” apparent friendliness and manner of speech that drove home the 76-year-old politician’s main point — that the country needed an attorney general who was willing to help everyone:
“We need someone who’s going to stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help. For people who have been discriminated against. It doesn’t matter whether they’re black or white, Latino, Asian-American or Native American. Whether they are straight or gay. Muslim, Christians or Jews. We all live in the same house, the American house. We need someone as attorney general who is going to look out for all of us, and not just for some of us.”
Lewis, who spoke for nearly seven minutes in total, ran out of time and cut his speech short enough to thank the Senate committee for their time. Yet with the time allotted to him by the chamber and his fellow CBC members, the representative managed to transcend Booker’s more pointed criticisms of Sessions and formulate a far more evocative set of critiques for the committee members (and voting Americans) to chew on.
Despite the comments made by Lewis, Booker and the others gathered with them to testify, however, Sessions is expected to receive enough support to garner committee approval.