May 19th, 2009
04:43 PM ET
9 years ago

Black lawmakers urge Obama to make Sudan crisis a priority

Rep. John Lewis is vocal in the fight to end the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

Rep. John Lewis is vocal in the fight to end the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged President Obama on Tuesday to act on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, including pressuring China to intervene in the mass killing of civilians in the African nation.

"We have to act," said Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia. "If we fail to act, we fail to do something, history will not be kind to any of us. This is genocide."

The Darfur conflict started in February 2003 when black African rebel groups attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan. Darfur is a region in Sudan.

Lewis, who is also a civil rights activist, was arrested during a protest last month outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington. He and others called for expressions of solidarity such as fasting, petition drives and meetings with top U.S. envoys.

Actress Mia Farrow was a keynote speaker at a news conference lawmakers held near the U.S. Capitol. The actress said Obama has yet to affirm his strong statements made as a senator against the situation in Sudan.

"In 2007, then-Senator Obama said, '"when you see a genocide, whether it is in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us. That is a stain on our souls,'" Farrow said. "Indeed it is. And where's the quote from our president in 2009? We don't have one."

Farrow, who fasted for 12 days in April before doctors said she was too ill to continue, said China should use its status as a major trading partner with Sudan to pressure the government toward reform.

Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, called for meetings with Obama and his special envoy for Sudan, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, to seek immediate action.

Earlier this year, Sudan expelled various aid organizations, which worsened the refugee crisis, said Mohammed Yahya, a Darfur activist and citizen of Sudan.

"We haven't gotten enough food. We haven't gotten enough shelters," Yahya said. "We haven't gotten enough medicines, and we are dying right now, we are starving right now due to the expulsions of the humanitarian aid workers."

Rep. Donald Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, said Americans can show solidarity by going without food to support the people of Sudan.

"Take a day to fast to psychologically and physically feel the pain of Darfur," Payne said.

Filed under: Congressional Black Caucus • John Lewis • Sudan
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Baze

    Great idea, let's get involved in another international hot bed. I'm sure we can get China to do whatever we want, and if not, then let's send our exhausted armed forces to fight another nation of third world wild men! YES!!!

    May 19, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. frank tx

    Thats a problem africans can best settle not us.

    May 19, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Obama Victim

    When did Obama get elected president of the World??

    $100 Million to Pakistan

    $1 Billion to Gaza

    Obama's foreign aid budget is set to exceed $50 BILLION!!

    It's time we begin telling the truth... WE'RE BROKE... GOOD LUCK!

    May 19, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Randolph Carter

    I'm really surprised that no one has done much of anything about the crisis in Sudan. I mean, come on, guys, they've got a ton of oil. Have a nice day!

    May 19, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. 8ways

    Unfortunately, I don't think we have the capacity to do anything at this point. With all of our military tied up in Bush's Boondoggles and all of our financial resources, wait, what financial resources? Anyway, it seems to be too little, too late.

    May 19, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. elliott

    Why is there no Congressional White Caucus? Oh wait, I guess that would be racist......(double standard at work in the guilt-ridden US)..

    May 19, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. RH

    Either ban the Congressional Black Caucus or establish Congressional White, Hispanic, Asian, etc. Caucuses. As a free Westerner, I am insulted by the existence of this organisation.

    May 19, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. The Broker.

    But not Namibia?

    May 19, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz,VA

    I really wish this was a top priority. I'm sure the President & Secretary Clinton are aware of the situation. But this ultimately a U.N. problem. We can't commit troops to the region, so someone has to. I commend Congressman Lewis for not sitting on the sidelines while this genocide continues. The people of Darfur don't have a voice, but Mr. Lewis has provided one for them.

    May 19, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. Rob

    The reason you won't see Obama do anything in the Sudan is because they don't have a big enough voter base to outweigh the code pink morons. Either that or the US hasn't done anything over there that would warrant an Obama "The U.S. is so very sorry" appology.

    May 19, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. American45


    May 19, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. Joe in NJ

    This is a job for the U.N. and not the U.S. Of course though we all know how useless the U.N. has become over the past several years.

    May 19, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Ghost

    We do have a congressional white caucus. It's called the GOP.

    I mean seriously guys. End the reverse racism stand. It only makes your racism shine like the sun.

    lastly, I don't think we can keep up at this rate. As much as I hate to say it, Dafur might have to take a back seat for now. At least we can't head up the effort. Maybe we could throw some support if another country would chip in.

    May 19, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |

    As a Republican while I agree that they have to fix Sudan as it has gone on for far too long let's say IF Obama was to go in there militarily how would the left'ists reply to that? Wait its OK if its Sudan but not OK if we remove the dictator in Iraq?

    I also agree that we should not support these groups based on race. We're all Americans and to seperate ourselves out by race, religion gender etc is just wrong.

    And don't give me crap that they have to do this to make sure they're treated equally. WE JUST VOTED IN AN AFRICAN AMERICAN TO BE PRESIDENT.

    May 19, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. I used to like CNN but not anymore!

    Its terrible whats happening but, we still need to focus on our issues as well. We can't afford to keep playing " savior of the world " anymore! And yes, I know alot of people would disagree and I'm sorry to offend you but, it is what it is.

    May 19, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Cooper In Toronto Canada

    CNN, What'up? Please get your facts right. How many black faces do you see in the posted picture? Those in the piture are congressional leaders from what one can see...

    May 19, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Melissa

    Ok... now I'm sighing and rolling my eyes. I think Obama has other things to deal with that are much more important. Enough is enough.

    May 19, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. TomJay

    Democrat Bill Clinton was President and did nothing while the genocide in Rwanda took place. We'll see what Obama does about Darfur. Speak softly (now that Democrats can act and risk taking responsibility) and care no stick.

    May 19, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. nolo430

    the fed should be a priority....take care of home first.

    May 19, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. Shari, NY

    I am all for helping the suffering but I think Pres. Obama has a full plate right now. If he gets forced to swallow anymore he will have GERD. Shouldn't the rest of the developed nations get involved in this too? International Community – arise from your slumber!

    May 19, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. Bobbie in Maryland

    I hope President Obama uses his influence to get the U.N. involved.

    May 19, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. Biff Biffington


    There "is"....

    it's called CONGRESS...

    (dude... why so sensitive..I thought the Blacks were supposed to be the ones hypersensitive)...

    May 19, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Tulsa

    @TomJay May 19th, 2009 5:03 pm ET
    Care to tell us what Bush did in Darfur?

    May 19, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. emma

    I second that!

    May 19, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |

    Line, by line, precept, upon precept.....the President will address these issues....first he is dealing w/ domestic affairs as he should, and the war efforts in Iraq, & Afghanistan.....As he should......Everything else will be handled, responsibly.

    May 19, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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