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Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Thursday questioned Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders will 'absolutely' work with Trump to lower prescription drug costs Sanders says he will introduce 'Medicare for all' bill Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill MORE's commitment to the civil rights movement during a news conference touting the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee's endorsement of presidential contender Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDemocrats step up calls that Russian hack was act of war Comet Ping Pong shooter pleads guilty Time for 'J. Edgar' Comey to take his leave MORE.
Lewis, who played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement, pushed back at Sanders's characterization of his record. The Democratic primary hopeful regularly notes that he attended the March on Washington and was arrested in the 1960s while protesting racism.
“To be very frank, I never saw him, I never met him,” Lewis said during the CBC PAC's endorsement.
“I chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963-1966. I was involved in sit-ins, Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the March from Selma to Montgomery ... but I met Hillary Clinton, I met President Clinton.”
As he spoke, someone in the crowd could be heard repeatedly saying "uh oh" and "tell it" as Lewis made his points.
Clinton surrogates have attempted to cast Sanders as late to the party on racial justice over the past few days, as she looks to rebound from a 20-point loss in to the Vermonr senator in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
Her campaign has pinned its hope on a "Southern firewall" bolstered by her leads in Nevada and South Carolina both in total and with minority voters.
The Sanders campaign hasn't responded to requests to comment on the new, aggressive push by Clinton surrogates.
Only one member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), has backed Sanders, while about 10 members attended Thursday's endorsement press conference.
But Sanders has worked to make inroads with black voters, announcing a handful of high-profile endorsements over the past few days.
Harry Belafonte, a civil rights activist and friend of Martin Luther King Jr., endorsed Sanders on Thursday, while former NAACP head Ben Jealous backed him last week.
Jealous has vocally lauded Sanders's civil rights record and questioned the assertion that Clinton is the best candidate for black Americans.
"Bernie Sanders has been a principled, courageous, and consistent fighter against the evils that Dr. King referred as the 'giant triplets of racism, militarism, and greed,’” Jealous said last week during his endorsement.
Lewis played a notable role in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary between Clinton and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCotton: House 'moved a bit too fast' on healthcare Obama to travel to South Pacific island to work on memoir: report Sanford: 'Testosterone can get you in trouble' MORE.
Lewis supported Clinton in that cycle, before changing his mind and supporting Obama.