STATEMENT BY REP. MAXINE WATERS, CHAIR OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS ON PRESIDENT CLINTON’S RACE

U.S. House of Representatives
105th Congress
Press Release – 20 June 1997


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 1997
CONTACT: Marcela Howell
(202) 225-2201

STATEMENT BY REP. MAXINE WATERS, CHAIR OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS ON PRESIDENT CLINTON'S RACE INITIATIVE

Friday, June 20, 1997

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In 1904, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois stated in his classic, The Souls of Black Folks, that the problem of the twentieth century would be the problem of the color line.

Almost 90 years later, John Hope Franklin, in his book, The Color Line, Legacy for the Twenty-first Century, stated that the problem of the twenty-first century would be the problem of the color line.

Here we stand. Three years before the turn of the 21st century and what are we discussing – race – the color line.

Last Saturday, June 14, 1997, President Bill Clinton announced his intention to launch a year-long dialogue on race in America. He appointed a seven-person Advisory Board with the mandate of leading that national discussion. During this last week, individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been asked by the media to state the position of the Caucus on the President's initiative. The Congressional Black Caucus supports President Clinton's efforts and believes the President's "bully pulpit" is a great launching ground for this dialogue. Because of America's volatile history involving race, we believe that it is critical to the future of our country to foster an honest and straightforward dialogue among the races. This is especially true between blacks and whites.

America must confront and deal with the attitudes and beliefs that one individual or individuals are inferior to another. Attitudes that make one American discriminate against another American because of race or ethnicity. This must be a part of the dialogue.

The Congressional Black Caucus is committed to work closely with the members of the Advisory Board as they begin their task. We believe the Board must develop concrete and comprehensive recommendations that include, but are not limited to: dialogue; employment; access to capital and economic development; support for expansion of educational opportunities at every level of education; and new approaches to dealing with crime, crime prevention and diversion from the criminal justice system.

As public policy makers we must insist that current laws dealing with discrimination be enforced. As a country, we cannot afford to backslide in our commitment to end all forms of discrimination whether at the federal, state or local level. We honor all the men and women who have fought and died for civil rights and equal rights under the law, all the valiant men, women and children who struggle everyday against racism and injustice. We are pleased the President of the United States is using his power to focus America on the issues of race and race relations. His effort joins with our on-going efforts to eliminate the evil and pain and existence of racism. We will work with him.

We will work with the Presidential Advisory Committee. We accept the President's commitment to deal with race relations and racism.

Let the race debate be renewed, but this time with a President positioned at the helm in ways America has never witnessed before.

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