Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) delivered the following
speech in Detroit, Michigan on Women’s Equality Day, August 26.
The “Trojan Horse” she refers to is Denise Majette,
who defeated McKinney in the Democratic primary in August of last
Political women in this room will appreciate this.
Seems, my entire political career I’ve had my back against the
ropes. The Good Ol’ Boys in Georgia, trying to take me to
the canvass for a full ten count. But each time they thought
they had me, women, including women from Detroit, rose to stop
A few years ago, the issue was redistricting. They thought
they could redistrict me out of office. They put me in a
district with almost no black people in it and laughed as they
wrote my political obituary. But the women of Detroit responded
with knowledge, unity, and money. We won and started
But we couldn’t celebrate long because the Good Ol’ Boys didn’t
stop plotting. Because down south, that’s what good ol’
So finally, they hit on a formula.
They remembered the days of Helen of Troy. And how the Greeks
were able to penetrate even the tightest security by presenting
what appeared to be a peace offering, but that instead was nothing
more than an aggressive act of war.
Computer viruses today are sent through what are called Trojan
Horses. That is, seemingly innocuous e-mail messages—like
the "Love Bug" message that was sent out some time ago—that
have embedded within them nasty little files that just tear up
your entire computer system.
So in like manner, these good ol’ boy strategists set about to
find a Trojan Horse. And this time, they hit upon what they
considered to be a winner: in my case, another black woman
who would in actuality be one of them. Imagine it.
Good ol’ boys from the bad ol’ days making bad ol’ girls for today.
Now legend has it, that for ten years the Greeks laid siege on
Troy and for ten years they couldn’t get through. But only
when they decided to fool the people of Troy, and send in an offensive
war machine cloaked in a peace offering did they project themselves
past a stiff Troy defense.
Troy believes that because it’s won every battle for the past
ten years that it has defeated the Greeks. Troy didn’t realize
that the Greeks had planned one more battle and that one would
win the war.
So, in my last election, 48,000 Republicans crossed over and voted
in the Democratic Primary.
Now, in Georgia the good ol’ boys think they’ve won the war; they’ve
set about in reverie. They even changed the state flag back
from the one confederate flag flag that we used to have to the
two Confederate flag flag that our former governor gave us to
the new Confederate flag flag that we now have that’s really still
a confederate flag in drag.
But even as they revel in their successes, I would warn them,
Don’t mistake a mere battle for the war.
Now, today, I want to sing the song of a few women who are facing
battles big and small.
Of course, we have to start with the visionaries who began as
abolitionists and who then founded the Suffragist Movement:
Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan
B. Anthony. And despite an imperfect movement, their vision
that women can be thoroughly integrated into every aspect
of American society prevails as the ideal.
And as I can clearly see from the makeup of the Detroit City Council,
either ya’ll don’t have any plotting good ol’ boys up here, or
woman suffrage is alive and well and ya’ll have won every battle!
All I can say is Kenneth, Alonzo, and Kwame, ya’ll had better
No one should ever talk about the voting power of women and not
Now, in December of last year, Time Magazine declared its person
of the year to be three women: Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley,
and Sherron Watkins. All women whistleblowers who saw wrong
and tried to right it.
Cynthia Cooper had worked her way up to Vice President at Worldcom.
She knew what they were doing there and she knew it was wrong.
Moreover, it hurt the many people who had invested their last
dollars in Worldcom stock. So she wrote a letter to the
Worldcom Board and told them that the company was covering up
$4 billion in losses. Worldcom’s bubble suddenly burst and
the rest is history.
Coleen Rowley’s now famous letter to Robert Mueller, her boss
at the FBI, exposed what FBI insiders knew: that something
was terribly wrong in Washington, DC where warnings and pleas,
including hers, were brushed off.
Sherron Watkins worked at Enron. She knew the company was
lying about its profits and so she wrote a letter to Ken Lay and
told him so. When that letter became public, she became
another of Time Magazine’s celebrated women whistleblowers of
Now, these women faced a tremendous decision. Should they
turn a blind eye to corruption? Or even could they?
In the end, we all know that they chose to do the right thing
in the face of what must have been incredible pressure to remain
silent. In January, May, and June, these three women stepped
forward and won important battles in our war for an America that
lives up to its ideals.
Sherron Watkins said that Enron passed out a quote from Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. that she had to look at every day. Dr.
King’s quote reminded us that "Our lives begin to end the
day we become silent about things that matter." Watkins
said she saw that quote every day and was compelled to act.
Now, I won’t get into what I think about Ken Lay passing out quotes
from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But suffice it to say that
Sherron Watkins found the courage to act because Ken Lay had failed
to do so.
Time Magazine goes on to say that these women didn’t wait for
a higher authority to tell them what to do. These
women, as each of us must also be prepared to do, took the helm
to steer the ship of our community. That these women saw
the ship in citizenship and they stepped up to that wheel.
Now, I’m not surprised that in three of the biggest political
stories of the year, maybe even the decade, a woman’s conscience
lies at the base of what we now know. What is surprising
is that Time Magazine recognized them.
But how many of you know women who do this literally every day
of their lives yet who remain unsung; some are even stung.
Like the young woman, Cathy Harris who told on the US Customs
racial screening policy at America’s airports. Cathy Harris
from Georgia gave us "Flying While Black."
Or like the young women who joined our military to get a college
education and who now find themselves on the frontlines of what
the international community has labeled an illegal war.
What about the young 22-year old woman soldier who took both the
anthrax and smallpox shots and who died before she could even
be deployed overseas.
Or the young woman of the military who refused to take those shots
and who is now being court-martialed. Isn’t it a shame that
the Administration can’t tell those young women what the effect
of these vaccines is on them and their as yet unborn children,
but it can jail them for not taking them?
What about the young women, scared literally to death, and threatened
with having their organs sold if they don’t submit themselves
to the sex slave business that’s thriving in Eastern Europe today
and one of the worst offenders is DynCorp corporation, the very
company that peddles its anthrax and smallpox vaccines to the
Pentagon through its sole source contract with the Pentagon.
What about the young frontline females who are too young to drink
in their hometown pubs, but who are not too young to find themselves
in the quicksands of Iraq.
And, my sisters, what kind of America do they come home to?
What about a sister, Catherine Austin Fitts, who served as Assistant
Secretary of HUD under the Bush One Presidency, but is being harassed
today by lawsuits to deprive her of a living and who uncovered
massive financial fraud at HUD and reported it.
mother, an Emergency Clinic nurse of 40 years in our big public
hospital in Atlanta, warned me the very first time the TV cameras
showed the first responders walking in the dust and smoke of the
September 11th tragedy. She called me on the phone and told
me that I needed to make sure that those workers got adequate
treatment because there were certain to be health effects from
their presence in whatever known and unknown toxins were present.
A caring woman, skilled at saving lives knew that those workers
in particular, and New Yorkers in general, could soon have a massive
But what none of us knew was that the Bush Administration would
tell the EPA to lie about the health hazards faced by the 9/11
workers at Ground Zero. The New York Times tells us that
the White House was motivated by a strong desire to see the Stock
Market quickly reopen on Wall Street. No wonder Christie
Todd Whitman threw in the towel and went back home to her loving
And what about me? I tried to call attention to the fact
that $2.3 trillion dollars was missing from the Pentagon and that
they didn’t need any more money until they could account for what
they already had lost.
And that those close to this Administration were poised to make
huge profits from any increase in defense spending. Shouldn’t
the President’s father and our current Vice President protect
themselves and our country from the appearance of conflict of
In addition, I asked the question that could expose the Administration’s
secrets. I asked, What did the Bush Administration know
and when did it know it about the tragic events of September 11th.
Who else knew? And why did no one warn the innocent people
of New York.
When I asked that question I was called looney; my words were
intentionally twisted by journalists who should have known better.
But we all know better now, and what we know is that this Administration
has not leveled with the American people on so many issues.
What we also learned is that in politics, when the going got tough,
many men got going. Through some of the most important issues
confronting our country, you have heard the voices of women.
will ask the questions that no one else will ask. Why?
I believe it’s because we haven’t lost our souls yet.