Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Calls 4 Urban Marshall Plan

In a Newsweek op-ed, 'This Is a National Disgrace', civil rights hero John Lewis, Lewis, Congressmember from the Fifth District of Georgia recalls his own experience, our history, and the glaring contrast between how we go to war vs. how we care for our own cities.  We need a Marshal Plan, not just for New Orleans, Lewis writes, but for urban America as a whole, with New Orleans as a model:
I was headed to New Orleans as a Freedom Rider in May of 1961. It would've been my first visit, but we were arrested in Jackson, Miss., and never made it. In happier times, though, I have been able to visit New Orleans over the years. It's one of my favorite cities, one of the great Southern cities....

It's very painful for me to watch and read about what is happening. I have a sense of righteous indignation. I think all Americans should rise up and speak out. It's not like 9/11 that just happened. We saw this in the making....

It's so glaring that the great majority of people crying out for help are poor, they're black. There's a whole segment of society that's being left behind. When you tell people to evacuate, these people didn't have any way to leave. They didn't have any cars, any SUVs.

It's so strange that when we have something like this happening, the president gets two ex-presidents--his father and Bill Clinton--to raise money. What they propose to do is good.... But when we get ready to go to war, we don't go around soliciting resources with a bucket or an offering plate. We have the courage to come before Congress and debate the issue, authorize money. That's what we need to do here. By next year we'll have spent $400 billion to $500 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq. That money could be used to help rebuild the lives of people. If we fail to act as a nation, I don't think history will be kind to us.

We've got to do more than the $10 billion that Congress appropriated. We need a massive Marshall-type plan to rebuild New Orleans. But in rebuilding we should see this as an opportunity to rebuild urban America. New Orleans could be a model. There must be a commitment of billions and billions of dollars--maybe $50 billion to $100 billion. I think even in other urban centers, there are people who are just barely existing.... I've cried a lot of tears the past few days as I watched television--to see somebody lying dead outside the convention center. I went to Somalia in 1992 and I saw little babies dying before my eyes. This reminded me of Somalia. But this is America. We're not a Third World country. This is an embarrassment. It's a shame. It's a national disgrace.


Any Democrat who's not willing to talk like this--and then turn that talk into action, should just do the decent thing, and resign.

I wrote a diary last year, before Kerry picked his VP, arguing that he should John Lewis as his running mate.  This is just a taste of why.  He is an authentic American hero--one of a handful of the foremost leaders of the Civil Rights Movement--and he's still at it, toiling away with only a shadow of the recognition and respect he deserves.

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5 Comments

Moral Clarity
John Lewis is so on target there should not even be any discussion about it. Al Gore and Howard Dean have joined the chorus of outrage rising out of the Black Congressional Caucus. Any Democrat that does not join that chorus should have their committee seats pulled and be drummed out of the party.

It's time to stop giving lip service to the promise of liberty and justice for all and make it a reality. Let's take The Four Freedoms out of the closet and dust them off while we're at it:

The Four Freedoms
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpt from message to Congress on the State of the Union, January 6, 1941

. . . In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way - everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants - everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the wold.

That is no vision of a distant millennium.  It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-05 04:24AM | 0 recs
Contact your Senator and Representative
All you need to know is your zip code and you can email your Senator and Representative.

After you've done that, email Sen. Boxer.

Email Sen. Clinton

Email Sen. Reid

Email every Democratic Senator.

Let them know that if they want your vote, they will introduce companion legislation in the Senate. It's time for the Senate Democratic Caucus to wake up and smell the coffee. If they don't start acting like Democrats, they won't get our vote.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-05 06:20AM | 0 recs
Moral Cowardice
His is the statement Harry Reid has on his website:

Reid Statement on Hurricane Katrina
Tuesday, August 30, 2005. Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today:

(WASHINGTON, DC) "Like all Americans, my thoughts are with residents across the Gulf Coast today. My prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones to this devastating force. The hearts of the nation will be with them in the difficult days ahead."

This is the email I just sent to Harry Reid:

Sen. Reid,

I am puzzled why you haven't issued a statement about the national disgrace in New Orleans.

You may have noticed that Rep. Lewis has a nice article in Newsweek. You probably also heard that Bill Clinton is chumming around with Bushco and repeating Chertoff's talking points that nobody could possibly have forseen such a disaster.  I can only assume that Bill Clinton has switched parties. Are you still a Democrat?

Why haven't you issued a statement about the devastation Hurricane Kristina left in her wake? Are you a coward or a racist? There is no other explanation. Judging by the absence of a Civil Rights category to list this email under, I can only assume you are a racist.

Disgusted by the failure of the Democratic leadership,
Gary Boatwright

I sent the same email with minor variations to Rep. Sanchez, Sen. Boxer, Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Clinton. I'll have a dozen more out by noon.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-09-05 08:00AM | 0 recs
I Understand Your Frustration, But...
Over a DKos, Armando has a FP diary, "The Democratic Legislative Plan for Responding to the Katrina Catastrophe" that has some pretty promising signs to it (from Harry Reid). Such as:
Ensuring health care for all displaced victims
  * Immediate access to Medicaid for displaced victims.
  * No need to prove residency or assets
  * No copayments
  * No penalties for failing to sign up for Medicare Part B in time. . . .

Getting victims housing
  * Emergency housing vouchers for displaced victims
  * Expedited application procedures with no red tape.
  * No tenant contributions until they find work.
  * Tax incentives for private families to take in victims.
  * Identify federal facilities that can house victims.
  * Relief for homeowners facing threat of foreclosure. . . .

Getting victims to family members and friends

and much, much more.
by Paul Rosenberg 2005-09-05 01:02PM | 0 recs
Rebuilding America
This seems to be a recurring theme across the left blogosphere:

Let's face it, the modern Democratic Party is never going to do anything like this without a huge shove from somebody.
by tgeraghty 2005-09-05 08:43AM | 0 recs

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