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. dave

    I know it's a tough situation over there but we have enough on our plate and being a black man it sadden me to see all the killing in Sudan.

    May 19, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mike

    I agree that we must stop the massacre of Christians by Muslims in the Sudan. Obama, on the other hand, has made it a point to ignore attacks on Christianity and terrorism by Muslims. Put the two together and you can guarantee that Obama isn't going to lift a finger.

    May 19, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. ken

    It is about time!

    May 19, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. AD

    @ Tulsa

    actually Bush allowed flow of humanitarian aid to the people in Darfur

    May 19, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Jean 2

    We can not solve all the problems of the world. Let other countries help.

    May 19, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. James, Phoenix AZ

    No one is asking the big question: why was the situation allowed to get to this point?

    The UN is worthless.

    May 19, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. US First

    I wish people would stop thinking that we are bound by some requirement to help all these people in their plight. When one thinks about the genocide that is taking place, one must remember that USA is not part of it, nor should it be. We must take care of our own leaking pipes before we pay for the plumber to fix someone else's pipes. Any people who view inaction from the US as neglect should probably head down to the nearest soup kitchen and offer assistance there. If they don't, they are being no less neglectful of our own citizens who are suffering.

    This is ridiculous. When did we go from being a world super power to the First National Bank ?

    May 19, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Forget Sudan....

    children are being shot to death every day in Obama's home town of Chicago-

    How about Pres. Obama fixing that before he goes running off to fix Sudan-–

    May 19, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Chris W

    This seems like another campaign promise Obama is taking his time to deliver on. Why not take all the money, it's in the billions, that we give to the Israelis (who get a front row seat at the White House) and tell them they lost it cause they wont stop building settlements AND THEN give it to a coalition of UN administered troops from African nations. Everyone says he's so busy but what is he actually doing?

    May 19, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. Willy Brown

    Screw Sudan. Why don't all you black lawmaker worry about Amercia's people for a change, all colours.

    May 19, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. Biff Biffington

    Please, Mississippi Mike....

    Please educate us all on how Obama "ignored attacks on Christianity"..

    man... the mental gymnastics it took for you to get there would have earned you a Gold in Beijing...

    May 19, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. Larry

    BLACK LEADERS,you only represent 13% of our population--since Obama was elected we govern our nations by the largest percentages of the polls,you don't count--13% is nothing compared to the 46% that the Republican represent,and no one cares about what they want.

    May 19, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Steve, Columbia SC

    Tell me African American legislators................what took you soooooooooooooooooooo long? The next thing you need to scream about is the totally lopsided number of African American babies are aborted................see any racisim in that?

    May 19, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. Biff Biffington


    All of those other caucuses exist...

    As do conservative causes, blue dog caucuses,

    Each one understands there is strength in numbers. the point is not to offend but to ensure your collective voice is heard.

    the fact that you are offended by its existence says more about you, than it does about the caucus.

    May 19, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. Fair is Fair

    If it was ANY other group besides Christians being slaughtered... ANY OTHER GROUP... the libs on these boards would be up in arms.

    Instead, we get responses like "let the UN do something"... "we've got too much on our plate"... blah, blah, blah.

    This is GENOCIDE we're talking here, people!

    I'm sorry. This hypocrisy is just too much.

    May 19, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. ken

    Willy Brown May 19th, 2009 5:56 pm ET

    Screw Sudan. Why don't all you black lawmaker worry about Amercia's people for a change, all colours.


    You are heartless! Have you ever seen pictures coming from sudan?


    May 19, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  17. willow

    I am so sick of helping countries that don't want or even need our help. If they would pull themselves up by their own bootstraps for a change they would see that they can solve their own problems without a hand out. Besides that...where do they think we're gonna get the money to help them out...a monopoly game?

    May 19, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. Dj

    For now it's Africa's problem. But Islamist militants that hate America aren't far away from Sudan, Somali and other war torn countries. When they take over African gov'ts it will be our problem and possibly too late.

    May 19, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Fair is Fair

    And one other thing. 35 opinions posted on a topic dealing with GENOCIDE. 160 opinions posted on a topic dealing with Sara Palin's wardrobe.

    Talk about priorities. I'm totally disgusted.

    May 19, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. roscoe

    This was going on when Bill Clinton was President. Why didn't he fix it. Y'all called him the first black President. And don't forget BO was born half white, raised white and never mentions it.

    May 19, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Mississippi Frank

    Contrary to Mississippi Mike's assertion, there are no Christians being killed in Darfur. This is Muslim on Muslim violence, and it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with resources. We are involved there, whether we like it or not, ever since Reagan gave the Islamists billions in aid to try to buy their loyalty against Libya, a relationship reinforced after 9-11 by Bush when we looked the other way while genocide was going on in order to keep the intel flowing to the CIA from Sudanese officials.

    May 19, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  22. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    Well, President Obama just appointed former President Bill Clinton to be a special envoy to Haiti. That is EXCELLENT news.

    This President makes it a point to think and plan what he does – not just run out and do something. He has his plate and hands full but I would bet that he has not and will not forget about the massacres in Darfur.

    He will respond – when he has a plan and something to say.

    May 19, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. Rogerd

    If these lawmakers want to send US dollars out of the country, let it come from there state allocated entitlements and earmarks; otherwise the money needs ti stay here until we are all 100% safe, insured and free of foreign oil!

    May 19, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  24. Rogerd

    If these lawmakers want to send US dollars out of the country, let it come from there state allocated entitlements and earmarks; otherwise the money needs to stay here until we are all 100% safe, insured and free of foreign oil!

    May 19, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  25. Brian

    How about we send the Congressional Black Caucus to Dafur to fix it?
    And NO, I'm not racist. We have folks here in THIS country suffering and dying right in the districts that these jokers represent. Wake up

    May 19, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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