For Release: July 15, 2004
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106
Black Representative, Black Caucus Must Apologize to Ralph Nader Reparation Necessary for Apology for "Obscene, Racist Epithet Made to Presidential Candidate"
Congressional Black Caucus member Representative Melvin L. Watt (D-NC) owes independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader an apology for his use of off-color and racially-insensitive language during a meeting held in the U.S. Capitol. Furthermore, the CBC as a whole should begin to act in a more civil manner, said a member of the African American leadership network Project 21.
On June 22, the CBC met with Nader to try to persuade him to abandon his presidential campaign, with the stated expectation that Nader's absence from the race would increase the possibility of President George W. Bush being defeated in the November election. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), a CBC member, calls the upcoming election "a life or death matter." According to witnesses outside of the closed-door meeting held in the basement of the Capitol, the discussion was punctuated with shouting and many CBC members stormed out of the room when it was over. Nader was reportedly rattled by the exchange.
Nader has since accused Representative Watt of using a "obscene, racist epithet" toward him during the meeting. In a letter to CBC Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Nader charged that Watt said: "You're just another arrogant white man - telling us what we can do - it's all about your ego - another f--king arrogant white man." Nader told Cummings: "I expect that you and others in your caucus will exert your moral persuasion and request an apology from Congressman Watt."
Project 21 joins Nader in demanding action from the CBC in this matter. Project 21 member Mychal Massie said: "This visceral and racist verbal attack by Congressman Watt is yet another unambiguous example of complete disregard and disrespect for others by members of the CBC -- respect that CBC members hypocritically demand for themselves."
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.
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