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CBC Chairwoman Condemns Racist Incidents During Health Care Protests

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Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement in response to racist and inflammatory incidents during yesterday’s health care protests.

“As the House of Representatives is on the cusp of passing historic health care reform, many opponents of progress have resorted to using racist and inflammatory tactics to express their opposition.

“Two weeks after leading a delegation of members of Congress on a civil rights pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama on the 45th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Rep. John Lewis was accosted while walking with two other CBC members on their way to vote on the House floor.

“Congressman Lewis has since remarked that what he encountered yesterday was reminiscent of what he experienced 45 years ago as a young man marching for freedom for all Americans.

“During the same incident, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat on by a protester and on a separate occasion a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank.

“For a protester to spit on a public official and hurl hateful epithets is wrong, it speaks to a deeper motivation that has nothing to do with the issues at hand. No one should fan the flames of hatred nor tolerate this despicable behavior which draws from one of the ugliest periods of American history.

“In December, members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a ‘Discussion on Race’ to examine the critical role of race in our society; its scientific, historic, legal and socio-cultural role.

"The incidents yesterday are examples of the unfinished business of America. We cannot sweep race and racism under the rug. Our nation needs and deserves a national dialogue on race.”

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