By Eric Ture Muhammad, Special to the NNPA from The Final Call –
ATLANTA (FinalCall.com) - “There is nothing more powerful than protest, there is nothing more powerful than getting out there, making noise and making protest heard,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in response to the expressed appreciation of protestors who gathered recently in front of the his 5th congressional headquarters.
The news conference turned demonstration was organized by the World African Diaspora Union and included former congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. Rep. Lewis acknowledged the demonstrators and insisted that protestors come inside his office for a frank discussion of the issues and their demands.
“I appreciate your coming by. People must speak up. We have an obligation as people to speak up and speak out. We have an obligation to get in the way. I detest war. I hate war. I think war is evil. It's bloody, it's messy and it destroys the hopes, the dreams and aspirations of people,” said the congressman. War is obsolete and not the way to solve the problems human-kind faces, said Rep. Lewis.
“We should talk. We should learn the lessons of history and I think some of us (in Congress) have been trying to make that clear. Not just members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but other members. The American people are tired, sick and weary of war. And we are losing all of these people. It's not just our young men and our young women, but it's the people they (U.S., NATO) are killing. You will not ever get in an argument with me on the issue of war and peace. I am there. And I will continue to do what I can with the administration, and with my colleagues,” the congressman pledged.
Joined by members WADU, the Green Party, the Dignity Delegation (a fact-finding coalition that joined Ms. McKinney in Libya this past June), the New Black Panther Party, the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, community activists, and a host of Mr. Lewis's constituents.
Abdul Akbar Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, was asked to represent the contingent in the June 29 discussion with Rep. Lewis. The demand was simple: Encourage CBC members to take a united stand against the United States support of NATO in its war on Libya and the much publicized assassination attempts of its President Muammar Gadhafi.
“I did not know this until Cynthia told me,” Muhammad said to the congressman, “but the Black congressional members represent the soul of Congress. Number one, because of our spiritual depth and what we have come through historically, our members represent the moral conscious of the Congress. Only six of the CBC members voted against additional funding of the war on Libya and we think that is immoral and that they should have made a stand.”
“The president understands my opposition to war. I have said it more than once in his presence. I have said it on the floor that I am not voting for another dime, another penny for the Defense Department. I don't vote for appropriation bills anymore. I just vote no. I voted against the rule to even bring the vote up,” said Rep. Lewis.
“It's billions of dollars that we can use to create jobs, fix our infrastructure, feed people, clothe people, educate all of our children and show them how to protect their environment. We could save Medicare and Medicaid. They want to cut WIC, all of these human needs programs but they don't want to cut the Pentagon,” he said. Lewis thanked the group once again and pledged to continue efforts on Capitol Hill to influence fellow CBC members to be a stronger conscience for government.
Rev. Menelik P. Harris of WADU thanked Lewis for the impromptu meeting and asked him to insist on a CBC initiative to encourage African nations to move forward with the development of an African Union government. “The African Union rejected the French-led NATO attack and U.S. support of the war on Libya as a bogus war on Africa. We have a responsibility to Africa,” he said.