Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) who is widely expected to be elected the next Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in December, hosted her 3rd Annual NPHC Greek Forum today at the U.S. Capitol. The theme of the events was voting rights and was moderated by Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson.
With only 48 days left until election day there was a sense or urgency in amongst many of the speakers.
“We are being out-hustled and out-manueuvered and the election is being stolen,” Wade Henderson, the President of the Leadership Counsel on Civil Rights, told the audience. ”We have until October 9th to get people registered to vote in most jurisdictions, ” Henderson added.
“We have nobody else to rely on. It is us that will make the difference,” Henderson concluded.
The event served as a unofficial kickoff to the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference forums beginning in earnest tomorrow.
Joining Fudge on stage were were Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Eddie Bernice Johnson, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and the Presidents of the “divine nine” sororities and fraternities.
“We had a 17% increase in African American voting in 2008. What does that mean? That means people are mad and want to stop it… if they win in suppressing the vote that means they win and will do it again the next time,” said current CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). Cleaver acknowledged that Fudge was his choice to be Chair of the CBC during the 113th Congress during his remarks.
“In this town there is no substitute for being in charge. I like going to meetings but it’s better holding the gavel,” said Rep. Thompson, who was the chair of the Committee on Homeland Security before the Republicans took over the House in January 2011.
As she spoke about President Obama, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said it made a difference in the way some viewed the determinations and the opposition mounting against voting rights.
“He didn’t grow up with that Black experience but he’s got it now… this all related to one thing: Power,” said Rep. Johnson of Texas. Johnson made the point that the strategy has been to get non-voting rights states to go against the tenants of the Voting Rights Act.
Speakers danced made an effort to be non partisan at an event held in the U.S. Capitol but the messages were clear. Voting rights in the U.S. have been challenged by law in over 30 states since the election of President Obama in 2008. All of the challenges have been initiated by Republicans.
The “divine nine” sororities and fraternities represent over a million and a half people and are involved in many activities including voter registration. Attending Fudge’s event today were Aaron Crutison, Sr., the President Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Carolyn House Stewart, the President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Randy Bates, Jr., President of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Dr. Andrew Ray, President of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Cynthia M. A. Butler-McIntyre, President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Mary Wright, President of Zeta Phi Beta, Jimmy Hammock, President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Bonita M. Herring, President of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and Karl Price, President of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity.
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Managing Editor, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus. She can be heard every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on WMCS 1290 on The Earl Ingram Show as well as on WPFW 89.3 every Friday at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Burke is a former employee of USAToday.com and ABC News. You can e-mail her at LVB@Politic365.com and follow her on twitter @Crewof42.