GOP rep: John Lewis ‘trades off’ civil rights legacy

Greg Nash

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Tuesday accused Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) of resting on his status as a civil rights icon, arguing he has done little in Congress.

“I have long contemplated the idea of just going to the [House] floor and saying, ‘John Lewis, thank you for your contribution to civil rights during the Civil Rights era. I would appreciate it if you would contribute something since then. It’s been half a century,'” King said during an interview on WHO Iowa Radio’s “Mickelson in the Morning” highlighted by CNN.

“A number of us have watched [Lewis] and said he trades off of it. I guess that’s fine, but he should be doing some other things too. And I haven’t seen it happen from him.”


King also criticized Lewis and other Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members for sharpening divisions in Congress.

“When they formed the Congressional Black Caucus back years ago in the aftermath of or in the immediate beginning of the civil rights movement, the shape of that, I looked at it even then and said, ‘How can you form a caucus that’s established on race?’” he asked. “And now, the Congressional Black Caucus, I just openly say it – they’re the self-segregating caucus.”

“I mean, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – as yesterday we celebrated his birthday – wasn’t about segregation, it was about de-segregation,” King added, citing Monday’s holiday for the civil rights leader.

“But now, they self-segregate and use the vehicle created as the self-segregating caucus in order to advance a leftist political agenda that is not at all reflective of Martin Luther King [Jr.’s] memory.”

The GOP lawmaker’s criticism of Lewis comes amid Trump’s war of wards with the civil rights icon after Lewis said last Friday he does not view Trump as a “legitimate president,” citing intelligence reports of Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential race.

The civil rights icon – who was beaten by police officers marching across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala. in 1965 – added he does not plan on attending Trump’s inauguration this Friday.

Trump fired back at Lewis on Saturday, calling him “all talk” and “no action” in tweets.

The criticism comes as more than 50 Democratic lawmakers plan on boycotting Trump’s inauguration, including dozens after he hit Lewis, according to The Hill’s whip list.

Tags civil rights Donald Trump House John Lewis Politics Race Steve King
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