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HR 9, the legislation to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is in trouble.  Extremist Republicans, who want to ban the production of election materials in any language but English, and who aim to end federal oversight of voting law changes in the South, have forced Republican leaders to delay bringing the bill to the floor of the House of Representatives.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965, invalidated at a stroke, seven or eight decades of southern election law explicitly crafted to deny the franchise to African Americans.

President Lyndon Johnson and the Congress of that time only passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act due to the existence of a mostly illegal Freedom Movement, which had waged thousands of illegal civil actions over the previous several years and demonstrated mass support in the African American community, and because open discrimination against blacks made the US look bad in its global struggle for influence with the Soviet Union.

With the Voting Rights Act up for renewal, none of the factors that enabled its passage are around any more.  The freedom movement of demonstrations and unruly illegal actions is long dead.  The Soviet Union is history too, and the Republicans who rule today are openly disdainful of world public opinion.  The only thing that stands between us and the end of the Voting Rights Act is the tepid support of white and black Democrats in Congress.

Tepid is indeed the word for Democratic support of the Voting Rights Act.  If Republican reaction to the Voting Rights Act has been to court white racism in the south and nationally, national Democratic reaction to that development has been to visibly distance itself from the aspirations of African Americans in order not to be thought of by whites as “the black party”.  This is why House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointedly ordered members of the Congressional Black Caucus to stick to the back of the bus when it came to promoting renewal of the Voting Rights Act.  One has to wonder if Democrats in the House will flog themselves into anything beyond hollow denunciations of Republican perfidy in the service of VRA renewal.  We wouldn’t bet on it.

Cynthia McKinney absolved

Two weeks ago, in a turn of events little noted by the mainstream print and broadcast media, a federal grand jury decided not to prosecute Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for her alleged part in an incident with a Capitol Hill police officer earlier this year.  The inability of a federal prosecutor to get a grand jury indictment is a plain and simple indication that the case against McKinney was weak, fabricated or altogether nonexistent.  In grand jury situations, prosecutors enjoy enormous latitude, including the ability to introduce hearsay and rumor into the official record, and the power to compel even self-incriminating testimony on pain of imprisonment.  For good reason, lawyers have long half-joked that any marginally competent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich for being a hot dog.

The rightist and racist nature of the media’s rush to ridicule and judge the representative from Georgia is clearly revealed by the lack of airtime and ink devoted to her exoneration.  Those members of the Congressional Black Caucus who rushed to misjudge McKinney, who convened a special meeting of that body to upbraid her, and who failed to stand with her on the floor of Congress as she declared her innocence of any wrongdoing, stand exposed too.  Chief among these derelict and delinquent caucus members, who seem to be working tirelessly to subvert the caucus’s very reason for existence, are CBC chair Mel Watt of North Carolina, and David Scott, the congressperson from west Atlanta.

Dr. Jared Ball of FreeMix Radio and one of the principals of CBC Monitor, has posted a half hour interview with Cynthia McKinney which you can hear at

BC reader Louis Starks, of Iowa, had this to say on the current utility of the caucus:

The CBC lost its usefulness eons ago.  No event shows this more powerfully than the woeful, pitiful CBC "voice" post-Katrina.  After years of Clinton's triangulation and soft-peddling of issues of importance to African Americans, the government's callous, incompetent response in the wake of Katrina finally created an opportunity to talk about, debate, and initiate policies geared towards alleviating the gaps between Black/White, rich/poor.   Even the MSM was on board for a while.  After decades of dormancy and neglect of African Americans and the inner-cities in particular, the best the CBC could offer is "President Bush, God cannot be pleased."  My comment is, "CBC, God cannot be pleased with you."  CBC, you have watered yourselves down to a state of irrelevancy.

This is but another example of Black Folk continuing to be our own worst enemy.

Lately, the CBC has provided us with no few examples of its declining usefulness.  In the June 15, 2006 BC cover story we noted that white Democrats actually voted for the preservation of the free internet, and to compel cable and phone companies to provide equal service in black communities at a higher rate than members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The Senate is now considering its own version of the telecom bill.  Senators were delivered a petition with one million signatures urging them to preserve the free and fair internet.  For our part, we urge all our readers to visit www. to communicate with their senators, and the members of the relevant committees.   If we lose this battle, we can expect to communicate about the next one using mimeograph machines.

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June 29, 2006
Issue 189

is published every Thursday.

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