By Marissa Muller in Atlanta, GA
Hillary Clinton had something to celebrate at her first public campaign event in Georgia -- THE endorsement of a black civil-rights hero, Congressman John Lewis.
Supporters gathered at noon Friday to catch a glimpse of the Democratic frontrunner outside Paschal's Restaurant, an Atlanta landmark of the civil rights movement.
The crowd stirred when a sedan and SUV crashed 100 yards from the gathering, and a Secret Service agent ran into the street to assist the injured. In no time police arrived in cars and on motorcycles and a fire truck and ambulance sped in with sirens blaring. It kept the candidate's supporters and news media engaged as they waited an extra hour in the noon-day sun for Clinton's arrival.
Once she got there, Clinton stepped from her car and embraced the 11-term Georgia Congressman. Arm in arm they circled around waving to the crowd.
Lewis was one of the "Freedom Riders" promoting civil rights in the South despite violent attacks by whites and was head of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960's.
Polls show Clinton ahead of black Democratic rival Barack Obama among blacks, and she hopes Lewis' endorsement will serve to punctuate that lead.
After greeting diners, the Senator from New York and former first lady headed upstairs to a banquet room where more than a hundred supporters eagerly awaited. Her 10 minute speech drew frequent cheers of support.