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Black lawmakers angry at Bush response to Katrina
by reposts
Friday Sep 2nd, 2005 6:48 PM
African American lawmakers have expressed outrage and blamed U.S. President George W. Bush for the "slow and incomplete response" to the devastation wrecked by Hurricane Katrina.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with members of the Black Leadership Forum, National Conference of State Legislators, National Urban League and the NAACP, told a news conference in Washington D.C. Friday that the response from the federal government was slow because most of those left behind were poor.

Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md, said residents of the stricken areas had gone far too long without clean drinking water and asked why "the differences between those who live and those who die are poverty and skin color?"

The comments came as Bush, who earlier admitted his government's response was "unacceptable," began a tour of the storm-damaged areas.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois., said too much focus had been placed on the looting which detracted from the main priority of getting food, water and stability to the tens of thousands of displaced victims.

Jackson asked why the federal government could not airlift thousands out of the Gulf Coast to New York, Chicago and Washington.

He also called on U.S. companies to take action, asking: "Where are the hotels of America, the airlines?"

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., asked the media to stop describing the hurricane victims as "refugees."

"'Refugee' calls up to mind people that come from different lands and have to be taken care of. These are American citizens," Watson told the news conference.

"The issue is not about race right now," added Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio. "There will be another time to have issues about color."

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., praised the city of Detroit for offering housing, food and clothing for 500 families displaced by Katrina and urged other cities to follow suit.

Rep. Cummings concluded by calling for citizens and governments to come together "with a force equal to that of Hurricane Katrina" to meet the needs of the hurricane victims.

Black members of Congress expressed anger Friday at what they said was a slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

"It looks dysfunctional to me right now," said Rep. Diane Watson, D-California.

She and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with members of the Black Leadership Forum, National Conference of State Legislators, National Urban League and the NAACP, held a news conference and charged that the response was slow because those most affected are poor. (See video of Congressional Black Caucus taking feds to task -- 5:50)

Blasting inadequate relief efforts to Hurricane Katrina victims, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick said she was "ashamed of America and ... of our government."

"I am outraged by the lack of response by the federal government," the Detroit Democrat said at a news conference held today by African American members of Congress and other black leaders.

The most prominent groups in the black civil rights community participated, including the Congressional Black Caucus, the Black Leadership Forum, the National Urban League, the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP. Their leaders called on airlines, hotels, restaurants and other U.S. businesses to pitch in to save lives in the next critical hours, weeks and months.

Kilpatrick urged other cities to follow the example of Detroit, where 500 local families have offered housing for Katrina victims, and efforts are under way to send clothing and food to the devastated areas. The NAACP asked people to send donations through their web site -- -- and Black Entertainment Television will hold a telethon on Sept. 9 to raise money.

While speakers focused on the need to get aid to victims quickly and getting them out of life-threatening conditions, the issue of race and poverty repeatedly broke through the news conference. Many of the hurricane victims are black and poor, and were not able to evacuate before the hurricane the struck. One audience member demanded to know whether the slow federal response was "black genocide," while another woman cried out, "African Americans built this nation. Descendants of slaves are being allowed to die."

Similarly concerned that race may be affecting relief efforts, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said "poverty, age and skin color" are determining who lives and dies.

"God cannot be pleased with our response," the Maryland Democrat said before admonishing President George Bush with a quotation from the Bible about the need to help the "least of these."

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, blasted "disparate treatment" of Katrina victims, referring to reports of whites, not blacks, being able to flee in boats, as well as black mayors not hearing from federal relief officials.

The news media were also chastised for referring to victims as "refugees" rather than "American citizens," and for reporting isolated looting without emphasizing the context of the difficult conditions people are living in.

"Desperate people do desperate things," said U.S. Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., called on Americans not to harshly judge wrongdoers: "Who are we to say what law and order should be in this unspeakable environment?"
by usnewswire
Friday Sep 2nd, 2005 6:49 PM
Project 21 Responds to Congressional Black Caucus Criticism of Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

9/2/2005 3:03:00 PM

To: National Desk

Contact: Ryan Balis of Project 21, 202-543-4110 ext. 19 or rbalis [at]

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a press conference today in which it was that asserted God "cannot be pleased" with the Bush Administration's response to Hurricane Katrina and suggested race is a factor affecting the likelihood of a person's survival in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Speaking at the press conference, Rep. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said "To the President of the United States, I simply say that God cannot be pleased with our response." Cummings also said: ""We cannot allow it to be said that the difference between those who lived and those who died in this great storm and flood of 2005 was nothing more than poverty, age or skin color."

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 have blasted the Congressional Black Caucus -- whose elected members are charged to serve the best interest of all Americans -- for racially politicizing a natural catastrophe.

"The comments and actions of the Congressional Black Caucus were morally opprobrious and divisive," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "It is beneath the level of sane discourse for the Congressional Black Caucus to suggest that blacks are suffering more than the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been displaced."

Adding to these comments, Project 21 member Kevin Martin points out: "Several of the Congressional Black Caucus' members have districts that have been devastated by this natural disaster. But rather than offering encouragement to those federal, state, local, and private citizens who are responding to this natural disaster, they would rather fan the fames of partisan rhetoric and hatred."

Project 21 members also questioned the use of Biblical passages in comments by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), in which he asserted, "God cannot be pleased" with the Bush Administration's response to the disaster.

Mychal Massie, an ordained minister and founder of In His Name Ministries, responded, "For Elijah Cummings to use the Bible to support his hateful speech directed at the President while issuing a pass to the liberal black groups is one more example of his belligerent attitude and jaundiced understanding of appropriateness."

Project 21 members called on members of the legislative branch of government to offer unity, patience and an end to violence and looting. "In this time of tragic need, there should be leadership offered from all sides including the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights groups," said Kevin Martin.

To date, the federal government has responded to the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina by sending more than 15,000 National Guardsmen, 7,800 U.S. military personnel and 61 Federal Emergency Management response teams to assist in the recovery efforts. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that federal, state and local government efforts have saved more than 4,500 lives, assisted more than 30,000 people and evacuated more than 22,000 displaced persons of the hurricane.

For more information, contact Ryan Balis at 202-543-4110 ext. 19 or rbalis [at], or visit
by NOLA (reposted)
Saturday Sep 3rd, 2005 7:32 PM
President Bush's top advisers met Saturday with black leaders concerned about the administration's slow response to blacks suffering from Hurricane Katrina, while the head of the NAACP said it was not time for "finger-pointing."

NAACP President Bruce Gordon said that any recriminations over how the government treated Gulf Coast residents can wait until the mostly poor and black victims are given the care they desperately need.

"Right now, the NAACP is in what I call a life-saving mode. We are not in a finger-pointing mode and until every life has been stabilized and every life has been saved, we will devote all of our energies for that purpose," Gordon said.

Gordon and Mississippi NAACP officials spoke at a news conference in Jackson hours after Bush administration officials including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff met with black leaders in Washington about allegations that indifference to black suffering slowed the response.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the group discussed how to evacuate, save and sustain lives, create temporary housing and ways to work with community and faith-based groups to handle the long-term needs of the displaced.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he believes the administration was partly interested in offering assurances that any missteps in getting relief to the victims would be corrected.

"I think a lot of people in the African American community — and others, by the way — share Bush's view that the results of his efforts have been unacceptable," Cummings said after the White House meeting.

Gordon said the NAACP will monitor how federal officials provide relief in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast while offering assistance to displaced residents and those in need.

"Once we are satisfied that some level of stabilization has occurred, then we are going to figure out what happened," Gordon said. "Because are there discrepancies? Yes."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and some black elected officials have said racial injustice was at the root of the federal government's disaster response.

Jackson on Saturday criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency, calling its rescue efforts a "colossal disaster." He also said the government failed to put together a coordinated effort to address the crisis and should be held accountable.

"There was no national emergency evacuation plan for Americans in the line of danger," Jackson said at his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters on Chicago's South Side.
by PAW
Saturday Sep 10th, 2005 6:40 PM
The following article originally appeared on the website of People for the American Way.

On August 24, Project 21, an African American initiative of the right-wing National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), held a press conference along with other far-right African Americans and Hispanics, to convey the appearance of broad “minority support” for John Roberts' confirmation to the Supreme Court.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a "conservative think tank" founded in 1982 in order to "provide the conservative movement with a versatile and energetic organization capable of responding quickly and decisively to fast-breaking issues." The NCPPR works on a variety of issues, from "environmental policy" to "global warming" to "civil rights." The organization is headed by President Amy Ridenour, Vice-President David Ridenour, and Executive Director David Almasi.

Project 21, the NCPPR's effort to create a “new leadership for Black America,” seems little more than African American spokespeople with extremist views that are at odds with what the majority of African Americans care about and believe. Yet it incredibly claims to be “a leading voice in the African-American community since 1992.”

The “new leadership for Black America” that Project 21 says it is “creating” has, in recent years, attempted to manufacture the appearance of African American support for right-wing appellate court nominee Janice Rogers Brown in the face of almost overwhelming opposition by credible voices in the mainstream civil rights community. “Project 21” also supported the nomination of Priscilla Owen (mistakenly and repeatedly referred to her in their own press release as “Patricia” Owen), as well as voiced its support for the Bush administration's efforts to privatize Social Security, applauded the replacement of Mary Frances Berry on the Civil Rights Commission, dismissed a highly regarded NAACP/ PFAW report documenting efforts to intimidate minority voters at the polls, has repeatedly attacked the NAACP – and even opposed Earth Day!

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