U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, was on the campaign trail on June 2 in the 6th Congressional District, campaigning for Jon Ossoff in Marietta, Sandy Springs and Tucker.

Ossoff faces Republican Karen Handel June 20 in a runoff for the seat that represents portions of DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb Counties and cities including Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody. Early voting in the race is underway and continues through June 16.

At the North Fulton Government Service Center in Sandy Springs, Lewis spoke to a crowd of some 50 people, telling them the country and the world was watching the 6th Congressional District race.

“This election can determine what happens to all of us,” Lewis said.

“There are forces that want to take us back to another time, to another place,” he said. “But we don’t want to go back. With Jon Ossoff, we will go forward.”

“People are pulling for him all across America,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to get people to cast a vote. By voting early, you have some votes in the bank. We can win and we must win. Never, never give up.”

Lewis also said he hoped that when June 20 rolled around, he would be able to call Ossoff not just a friend, but a colleague. “Let’s make it happen … he will make us proud,” he said.

Lewis made no mention of Handel, but did note President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement the day before, on June 1.

“This is about our future, about the future of this planet,” Lewis said. “Some of you saw what the president did … yesterday. What is that all about?”

Ossoff is a strong supporter of the Paris Climate Agreement and has said “history will condemn us” if the U.S. walked away. Handel supports Trump’s decision to back out of the agreement.

Alice LaRocca of California flew into Atlanta and drove to Sandy Springs to make sure her 99-year-old father, Nick LaRocca, who lives in a retirement community in Sandy Springs, could early vote in Fulton County and also to meet Lewis.

“He’s sharp as a tack. He’s never missed a vote,” she said of her father, who was sitting in a car to stay cool from the heat. She said her father worked in Veterans Affairs, preparing budgets for Congress. “He knows how important this election is.”

Stumping for Handel at past events include Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to make a campaign stop in metro Atlanta this month to show his support for Handel.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis meets Nick LaRocca, 99, of Sandy Springs.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.