U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, testifies during the hearing of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, Jan. 11, in Washington, D.C. (Screengrab via PBS News Hour)

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond called on the U.S. Senate panel vetting President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Attorney General during a confirmation hearing Wednesday to vote against Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions' appointment to the nation's top law enforcement post.

"Simply put, Sen. Sessions has advanced an agenda that would do great harm to African American citizens and communities," said Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Richmond was invited to speak as part of the final panel of opponents of Sessions' nomination on Wednesday — the second day of Sessions' confirmation hearing. He was joined by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Richmond took issue with their placement on the hearing's agenda.

"To have a senator, a House member and a living civil rights legend testify at the end of all of this is the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus. It's a petty strategy," Richmond told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I don't mind being last, but to have a living legend like John Lewis treated like that is beyond the pale."

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, a Madisonville Republican who serves on the Judiciary Committee, took part in the vetting of sessions, asking him about his views on the treatment of law enforcement, access to public records, the Second Amendment and other issues related to the Department of Justice.

Kennedy, who took office this month, has said he plans to vote in favor of Sessions' nomination. 

Sessions was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 for a federal judgeship amid accusations that had made offensive, racially charged remarks in the past. Sessions has denied those claims.

Richmond said that Sessions' positions on criminal justice reform and other issues that impact African Americans were of concern, though.

"Jeff Sessions cannot be relied upon to enforce the Voting Rights Act," he argued.

Richmond urged senators to "be courageous or be complicate."

"Each and every senator who casts a vote for Sen. Sessions will be permanently marked as a co-conspirator in the effort to move this country backwards toward a darker period in our shared history," Richmond said.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.