Artur Davis' candidacy for governor of Alabama has been endorsed by Congressmen John Lewis (D, GA) and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D, IL).
“I am pleased that Jesse Jackson Jr. and John Lewis support my efforts to change Alabama,” said Davis. “For seven years I have worked with both of them to pass legislation that makes America stronger at home. I know they both have a history of ties to our state, and I am honored to have their help,” Davis concluded.
Congressman Lewis was born near Troy, Alabama and attended segregated public schools in Pike County. A leader of the Civil Rights movement, Lewis was a Freedom Rider and, with Hosea Williams, led the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965 when peaceful protesters were attacked by state troopers. John Lewis recovered from the beating he received that day (AP archive photo, right) and has remained “at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle” ever since. Davis and Rep. Lewis serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and have worked together on several issues, including an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which was signed into law by President Obama last year.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was elected to Congress in 1995. Since Davis' election in 2002, the two men have worked together in Congress to create jobs and improve public schools. They were among the sponsors of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act* of 2009 (the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama) and both voted for the economic stimulus package last year. Like Davis, Jackson was an early backer of Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency and gave a prime-time speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention (photo, right) in which he said:
I'm sure that Dr. King is looking down on us here in Denver noting this is the first political convention in history to take place within sight of a mountain top.”
… this is an historic moment. I know. I grew up with the lessons of another generation, my father’s generation. I know his stories of struggle and sacrifice, of fear and division. I know America is still a place where dreams are too often deferred and opportunities too often denied.
But here’s what I also know. I know that while America may not be perfect, our union can always be perfected. I know what we can achieve when good people with strong convictions come together around a common purpose. And I know what a great leader can do to help us find common ground.
Rep. Lewis initially backed Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2007, but endorsed Barack Obama early in 2008, saying:
“When I speak to students about the Civil Rights Movement, I say that it is impossible to stop a determined movement that is captivating the American consciousness. I think the candidacy of Sen. Obama represents the beginning of a new movement in American political history that began in the hearts and minds of the people of this nation. And I want to be on the side of the people, on the side of the spirit of history.”
The Davis campaign says both Lewis and Jackson will be featured in radio ads to run before the June 1 primary. These endorsements come at a time when leaders of some traditional black political groups in Alabama — the Jefferson County Progressive Council and the New Jefferson County Citizens Coalition — are being called “out of step” for endorsing Davis' opponent.
* Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the Fair Pay Act, has previously endorsed Davis.