I must admit that I am surprised that the GOP leadership is bailing on showing up for one of the most important civil rights events in the history of our country. Normally this wouldn't surprise me at all, but after the year we've had, I thought they may want to be supportive for an event such as Selma.
Scores of U.S. lawmakers are converging on tiny Selma, Alabama, for a large commemoration of a civil rights anniversary. But their ranks don’t include a single member of House Republican leadership — a point that isn’t lost on congressional black leaders.
None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was once thought likely to attend to atone for reports that he once spoke before a white supremacist group — will be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers. A number of rank-and-file Republicans have been aggressively lobbying their colleagues to attend, and several black lawmakers concurred.
It is very disappointing that not a single Republican leader sees the value in participating in this 50th commemoration of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. I had hoped that some of the leadership would attend, but apparently none of them will,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina. “The Republicans always talk about trying to change their brand and be more appealing to minority folks and be in touch with the interests of African-Americans. This is very disappointing.”
Former CBC Chair Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio) agreed.
“Not only do they have an opportunity to participate in something that is historic in this country, but certainly they’ve lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care,” she said. “Their loss.”
I thought Republicans were trying to win the hearts and minds of minorities across America?
Rep. John Lewis piled on the Republicans as well:
Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who participated in the 1965 march alongside Martin Luther King Jr., said he was disappointed that House Republican leaders wouldn’t make the trip. Former President George W. Bush and his wife are expected to attend Saturday’s ceremonies, as is President Barack Obama.
“I wish we had someone in the [Republican] leadership going,” Lewis said. “President Bush is going to be there, but I think it would have been fitting and appropriate for them to make a trip.”