John Lewis, the Georgia congressman and civil rights icon, formally endorsed Joe Biden for president Tuesday morning, becoming one of the latest in a long list of elected officials who have backed the former vice president.

“I read about Joe Biden when he became an elected official. I heard him speak. I met him,” Lewis (D) told reporters on a conference call ahead of the announcement. “And he’s been a friend, a dear friend. He’s a man of courage, a man with a great conscience, a man of faith. He will be a great president. He will lead our country to a better place.”

Biden’s campaign also announced an endorsement Tuesday from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who considered but ultimately declined to seek the Democratic nomination himself and who represents a general-election battleground state.

“As we face both a public health crisis and an economy in turmoil, we need a steady hand more than ever,” Brown said in a statement. “Joe Biden has the experience, the tenacity, and the empathy to lead in a crisis, and the hope to bring us together, and steer us toward brighter days ahead.”

Lewis told reporters that he would urge young black voters in particular to vote for Biden, and he harked back to the work done by civil rights leaders.

“I would tell young people the story of Selma and Montgomery and Mississippi,” he said. “If we fail to vote, we don’t count. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society. And we must use it.”

Lewis said that Biden’s pledge to select a female running mate was important, but he didn’t go as far as others — including Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) — who have been publicly urging Biden to pick a black woman.

“I think vice president Biden should look around,” Lewis said. “It would be good to have a woman of color, it would be good to have a woman. . . . And we have plenty of able women, some are white, Latino, Asian American, Native American. I think the time has long passed for making the White House look like the whole of America.”

John Wagner contributed to this report.