The Capitol building in which Clyburn will speak is the same one where statutes passed in the late 19th century — known as "Jim Crow" laws — essentially deprived the state’s large black population of the franchise and other civil rights.
As such, you would think that Clyburn and the other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) would understand how disappointed that African American citizens are to see that the CBC Institute (CBCI) has cut a deal with Fox News to sponsor two debates, one with Democrats and another with Republicans in the 2008 presidential race.
As many of you might remember, Nevada Democrats and Majority Senate Leader Harry Reid were slammed by liberal blogs for agreeing to a Democratic debate with Fox News a few weeks ago, and backed out of the deal under pressure. Liberal activists complained that Fox News was slanted toward Republicans, would distort the debate, and should be shunned. The breakpoint occurred when Roger Ailes, head of Fox News, in a joke at an an awards dinner, poked fun at President Bush for confusing Senator Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden. (Mr. Obama later said he didn't take offense, but many in the blogosphere did.)
According to Fox:
The first of the two debates will be among Democratic candidates and will be held on September 23rd at the Fox Theater in Detroit. The second debate will be among Republican candidates and will take place in the fall of 2007 at a location to be determined. Both debates will serve as a forum for the candidates to make their platforms known.In a statement accompanying the Fox announcement, chairman of the CBC, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, said this:
"As a leading organization dedicated to educating the public on issues of national policy, the CBC Institute is committed to presenting the presidential candidates to the broadest audience possible."ColorofChange.org has released a statement asking CBCI to reconsider. Field Negro, African American (Black) Opinion and others in the blogosphere brought this issue to the forefront when it first surfaced. It is time for all villagers to become informed and take a stand. The online petition is the type of activism that warriors in the village can take immediately. At a minimum, we would like your insights on the controversial move made by the CBCI to partner with Fox News for this debates.
"Our goal with each debate is to provide a platform that will allow voters to hear the positions of candidates from both political parties. Collaborating with FOX News provides an opportunity to take this presidential election to millions of households."
"The CBC Institute's decision is shamefully out of step with most Black voters, and we will continue to push on the CBC Institute to drop this deal. Every presidential candidate now must decide whether to legitimize Fox - a network that calls Black churches a cult, implies that Senator Barack Obama is a terrorist, and uses the solemn occasion of Coretta Scott King's funeral to call Black leaders ‘racist.' We will be launching a petition asking presidential candidates to attend the CBC Institute's CNN debate and reject the Fox debate." Fox News has consistently attacked Black people, Black leaders, and Black cultural institutions. Despite this, the Congressional Black Caucus Institute has announced that it will partner with Fox to co-host presidential debates.
The Congressional Black Caucus is letting us down at a time when Black Americans need strong and strategic leaders more than ever. We are beginning a campaign to make it clear to key CBC leaders, and the voters in their districts, that the majority of us are not with them. We must keep raising our voices, making it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that Black America is speaking out against this kind of irresponsible and disrespectful representation.