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African American lawmakers plan State of the Union protest
Form of expression to be determined
Published Tuesday, January 23, 2018 6:30 pm
by Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA

During a lengthy, members-only meeting on Capitol Hill on Jan. 19, members of the Congressional Black Caucus discussed various options to protest President Donald Trump. Their protest plans centered around the annual State of the Union address.

Trump’s second State of the Union address is scheduled for Jan. 30.

The meeting occurred only hours after 66 members of the House voted to act on impeaching the President. That effort was led once again by CBC member Rep. Al Green, D-Texas. Green’s second impeachment try failed 355-66. Three Democrats voted “present.”

A couple of weeks after Trump reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador and the continent of Africa “shithole countries” during a meeting on immigration with lawmakers in the Oval Office, many have had it.   

CBC members who attended the discussion confirmed that several options of protesting President Trump were discussed including walking out, wearing African themed garb and even not showing up to the State of the Union at all. The more vocal members included Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).

During an interview with Buzzfeed on Jan. 17, caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, D-La., mentioned the CBC might hold its own State of the Union.
“We will…discuss how we want to respond to the president’s State of the Union,” he said. “We could go, we could go and walk out, we could go and hold up fists...or we could not go, or we could hold our own State of the Union,” Richmond said.

A few caucus members have already stated that they will not attend the president’s address. They include Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).

Some CBC members are concerned about Congress’ largest caucus not being unified in protest, whatever form the protest may take. Other members wanted to make sure serious issues are highlighted and expressed concerns about the protest taking attention away from serious policy discussion. But in the age of former reality TV star turned president, others say that the best response is to fight fire with fire.

With protests in the air and in the streets around the first anniversary of the start of the Trump presidency, the timing of any protest the CBC may undertake is likely to receive serious media attention.

Regarding Green’s impeachment attempts, which House leadership is in opposition of, Green pointed out that Trump, “has by his statements brought the high office of president of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute; has sown discord among the people of the United States; has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president; and has betrayed his trust as president of the United States to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and has committed a high misdemeanor in office.”

Green’s form of protest was a legislative one. On the night of the State of the Union, we are likely to see a more theatrical display.


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