Cynthia McKinney’s statement on Obama nomination
Published Jun 11, 2008 8:43 PM
The following statement was issued by Cynthia McKinney, Power to the
People candidate for U.S. president, on June 9.
On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Hillary Clinton announced that her 2008 presidential
bid is over, making Barack Obama the first-ever Black presidential nominee of a
major party in the history of the United States.
Congratulations to Senator Obama for achieving such a feat!
When I was growing up in the U.S. South in the racially turbulent 1960s, it
would have been impossible for a Black politician to become a viable
Presidential contender. Nothing a Black candidate could have done or said would
have prevented him (or her) from being excluded on the basis of skin color
alone. Many of us never thought we would see in our lifetime a Black person
with a real possibility of becoming President of the U.S.
The fact that this is now possible is a sign of some racial progress in this
country, more than 40 years after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. But
it is also a sign of the deep discontent among the American people, and
particularly among African Americans, with the corporate-dominated,
business-as-usual politics that has prevailed in Washington for too many
Coming from Barack Obama, the word “change” did not appear as just
another empty campaign slogan.It galvanized millions of people—mostly
young people—to register to vote and to get active in the political
system. The U.S. political system needs the energy and vision of all its
citizens participating in the political process. Citizen participation is
always the answer.
Sen. Obama called for healing the wounds inflicted on working people and the
poor in our country after eight years of a corrupt and criminal Bush-Cheney
Administration. Just as in November 2006, people full of an expectation for
change, including those the system has purposefully left out and left behind,
flocked to the polls to vote for Sen. Obama. Across a broad swath of the people
of this country, and from those who are impacted by U.S. foreign policy, there
is a real expectation, a real desire, for change.
While congratulating Sen. Obama for a feat well done, I would also like to
bring home the very real need for change and a few of the issues that must be
addressed for the change needed in this country to be real. First of all, a few
of the more obvious facts: United for a Fair Economy (UFE) produces studies
each year on the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
entitled State of the Dream reports. UFE has found that on some indices, the
racial disparities that exist today are worse than at the time of the murder of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; for example, infant mortality, where the overall
U.S. world ranking falls below Cuba, Israel and Canada.They also have found
that, without a public policy intervention, it would take over 5,000 years to
close the home ownership gap between Blacks and whites in this country,
especially exacerbated because of the foreclosure crisis disproportionately
facing Blacks and Latinos today.
They have found that it would take 581 years, without a public policy
intervention, to close the racial gap in income in this country. UFE has found
unacceptable racial disparities extant on economic, justice and security
issues. After analyzing the impact of the Democratic Party’s “First
100 Hours” agenda upon taking the congressional majority, UFE concluded
in its 2007 report that Blacks vote in the Blue (meaning, they support
Democrats in the voting booth), but live in the Red (they do not get the public
policy results that those votes merit).And UFE noted that Hurricane Katrina was
not even mentioned at all in the congressional Democratic majority’s 2007
First 100 Hours agenda.
United for a Fair Economy is not the only organization to find such dismal
statistics, reflecting life for far too many in this country.In a study not too
long ago, Dr. David Satcher found that over 83,000 Blacks died unnecessarily,
due to racial disparities in access to health care and because of the disparate
treatment Blacks receive after access.
A Hull House study found that the racial disparity in the quality of life of
Black Chicagoans and white Chicagoans would take 200 years to be eliminated
without a public policy intervention. The National Urban League in its annual
“State of Black America” publication basically concludes that the
U.S. has not done enough to close long-existing and unacceptable racial
The United Nations Rapporteur for Special Forms of Racism, Mr. Doudou Diene of
Senegal, just left this country in an unprecedented fact-finding mission to
monitor human rights violations in the U.S. Dr. Jared Ball submitted to Diene
on my behalf, my statement after the Sean Bell police verdict. The U.N. has
already cited its concern for the treatment of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
survivors and the extrajudicial killings taking place across our country, that
especially target Black and Latino males, and especially at the hands of law
I hope it is clear that the desire for change is so deeply felt because it is
deeply needed. Politics, through public policy, can address all these issues
and more in the favor of the people.We do not have to accept or tolerate such
glaring disparities in our society. We do not have to accept or tolerate
bloated Pentagon spending, unfair tax cuts, attacks on our civil liberties, and
on workers’ rights to unionize.We don’t have to accept or tolerate
our children dropping out of high school, college education unreachable because
tuition is so high, or our country steeped in debt. The 21st century statistics
for our country reflect a country that can still be characterized as Dr. King
did so many years ago: the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet.
It doesn’t have to be that way.And the people know it.
I have accepted as the platform of the Power to the People Campaign, the
10-Point Draft Manifesto of the Reconstruction Movement, a grouping of Black
activists who came together in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to
advocate for public policy initiatives that address the plight of Blacks and
other oppressed peoples in this country.
Among its many specific public policy planks, the Draft Manifesto calls
* election integrity, if our vote is to mean anything at all, all political
parties must defend the integrity of the votes cast by the American people,
something neither of the major parties has done effectively in the past two
* funding a massive infrastructure improvement program that is also a jobs
program that greens our economy and puts people to work, and especially in New
Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hurricane survivors, treated as internally
displaced persons whose right to vote and right of return are protected, play a
meaningful role in the rebuilding of their communities;
* recognizing affordable housing as a fundamental human right, and putting a
halt to the senseless destruction of public housing in New Orleans;
* enacting Reparations for African Americans, so that the enduring racial
disparities which reflect the U.S. government’s failure to address the
reality and the vestiges of slavery and unjust laws enacted can be ended and
recognition of the plight of Black farmers whose issues are still not being
adequately addressed by USDA and court-appointed mediators despite a U.S.
government admission of guilt for systematic discrimination;
* acknowledging COINTELPRO and other government spying and destabilization
programs from the 1960s to today and disclosing the role of the U.S. government
in the harassment and false imprisonment of political activists in this
country, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, the San Francisco 8, Leonard Peltier,
including restitution to victims of government abuse and their families for the
suffering they have long endured;
* ending prisons for profit and the “war on drugs,” which fuel the
criminalization of Black and Latino youth at home and provide cover for U.S.
military intervention in foreign countries, particularly to our south, which is
used to put down all social protest movements in countries like Mexico,
Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and elsewhere;
* creating a universal access, single-payer, health care system and enacting a
livable wage, equal pay for equal work, repealing the Bush tax cuts and making
corporations and the rich pay their fair share of taxes;
* establishing public funding for higher education—no student should
graduate from college or university tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in
* ensuring workers’ rights by 1) repealing Taft-Hartley to stop the
unjust firing of union organizers, ban scabbing and enable workers to exercise
their voices at work, and 2) enacting laws for U.S. corporations that keep
labor standards high at home and raise them abroad, which would require the
repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, and the U.S.-Peru FTA;
* justice for immigrant workers, including real immigration reform that
provides amnesty for all undocumented immigrants;
* creating a Department of Peace that would put forward projects for peace all
over the world, deploying our diplomats to help resolve conflicts through
peaceful means and overseeing the orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from the
more than 100 countries around the world where they are stationed, and an
immediate end to all wars and occupations by U.S. forces, beginning in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and slashing the budget for the Pentagon.
The Power to the People Campaign has visited 24 states, and I believe there is
already broad support across our country for these policy positions. The people
deserve an open and honest debate on these issues and more. I encourage the
Democratic Party and its new presumptive nominee, Sen. Obama, to embrace these
important suggestions for policy initiatives.
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