January 6th, 2009
12:28 PM ET
14 years ago

Cleaver: This cannot be a 'black seat'

(CNN) - Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the new vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Tuesday President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat should not viewed as 'the black seat.'

“Mr. Burris will be seated or won’t be seated on the basis of what happens in a court. I don’t think it’s in the people of Illinois’ interests for us to color that seat," Cleaver told reporters on Capitol Hill. "That seat can’t be the black seat. If that happens we begin to lose the progress we made.”

Those comments appear at odds with views of Rep. Bobby Rush, who has implored Senate Democrats to seat Burris because there are currently no African-American members of the Senate, and called the currently all-white chamber the "the last bastion of plantation politics."

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. cherrystrawberry


    As an African American, I am so very very very disgusted with this has been House Negro I could jusrt SPI T! What he needs to do is go sit his old azz down somewhere and let the people of Chicago decide who should get the seat. I am further disgusted that some white Senators are afraid to somehow offend black constiguents (sp.) by not sitting Mr. Burris!!! What a freaking crock! News Flash White SENATORS!!!!!!!!!!!! We dont care if a black, white, asian, Latino, Mexican etc., is appointed as long as he is is QUALIFIED! To think that black people are going to March in the street if this antiquated relic isnt seated is EVEN MORE OFFENSIVE!!!!! I equate it equally offensive to those whites who think that most blacks voted for Obama because of his Skin. While I dont deny I felt a certain pride in doing such, we voted for the Best DEMOCRAT! Believe me we would have voted overwhelmingly for ANY Democrat as we have in past elections.

    What is wrong with you People!!!!!! Why are some white people so afraid to stand up and say …"I dont care what color this man is…..This isnt't Right and we as AMERICAN CITIZENS aren't gonna take it?" You'd be surprised at the Black Chorus that may Chime in with you.

    I'm sorry I ranted.

    January 6, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Objective thinking

    Even though this article has nothing to do with Republicans, cue anti-Republican remark from "Proud American" in 3... 2... 1...

    January 6, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Dave in Atlanta

    As an African American I agree. References to Burris race are just an attempt to scare Senate Democrats into seating him by implying there might be a backlash from the African American community. The Illinois Secretary of State is perfectly within his rights in refusing to co-sign Blagojevich's appointment to the senate. Burris should sit tight and wait for this issue to be resolved instead of trying to barge his way into the senate.

    January 6, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. david goldman



    January 6, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. William, from Cali!

    Why does it have to be a "black seat" in the first place....it's just a seat; put the "Appointed One" in it! Is that a problem? America!

    January 6, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.



    YES WE DID!!!!

    January 6, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. carlo

    Thank you, Rep. Cleaver! Finally, a voice of reason out of the mouth of a fellow black politician. It is not reserved for a black candidate, no more than the office of the Presidency was reserved for a white candidate. I'm glad someone finally said it. I"m tired of being marginalized and tokenized, as are millions of other black people who have worked hard and struggled to get ahead the RIGHT WAY.

    January 6, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. chuck


    January 6, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. An Opinionated Negro Speaks

    This is a seat held by Barack Obama and Carol Mosley Braun.

    It would seem that Illinois has demonstrated its openess to elect blacks to the highest offices. There need not be any talk about racism based on a lack of success in elections.

    We must always keep our eyes open for other signs of bias but Illinois has earned the right not to the benefit of the doubt in this case.

    Now Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina are all together different.

    January 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Sean from KY

    Good for Cleaver. The age of race based politics are over. No longer are we judging people by the color of their skin when it comes to politics, we will judge them merely by their merits. Rush's description of the Senate as "Plantation politics" is deplorable and distinctly racist.

    January 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. giniajim

    I've got to agree with this. You can't be having seats "allocated" to a particular minority or characteristic. I'm all for having diverse representation in a legislative body, but the voters need to have the final say.

    January 6, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Radical thinker

    Why not choose the best person for the seat?

    January 6, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. M Jonah

    I am a black woman and I despise when a person's color or race is being used as a cover up for hand outs. All appointments should be worked hard for just like Obama did for his. He did not just get up and say to all the Americans who voted for him to vote for him because they will prove themselves to be racists if they had not voted for him. According to those who voted for him, they proved the point that he had convinced them that he is capable of delivering his duties when chosen as the president and he fought for it every inch of the way. He did not receive it on a SILVER PLATTER.


    January 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Billy, NYC

    After over 40 years of the civil right movemnet, many African Americans, like Bobby Rush, still embrace the role of victim; even though the country just elected the first People of Color president.

    January 6, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Wake UP America

    Why is there such an uproar about race in the first place. Have an election and let the people choose who will represent them!

    January 6, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Mari

    TRUE. It is NOT a black seat....... it is the senate seat from Illinois, period. Good grief, why all the drama?

    Again I say, Blagojevich lost the right to appoint a senator when he attempted to sell the seat.

    January 6, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. Millie Gee

    I agree with Rep. Cleaver. Blago thinks he has outsmarted most people (or at least tried to), by appointing Burris. President-elect Obama is in for a rough time ...

    January 6, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. unity

    nicely put.

    January 6, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  19. Sanma

    Thank you Congressman Cleaver ! It is very sad to see people like Rep. Rush playing the race card. Rep. Rush is a "professional African-American" leader who simply can not make the transition to being an "African-American professional". Professionally and personally, those like Rep. Rush are so tied up in old "race game", that the idea of being judged on the content of their character is simply impossible for them to grasp. The closet comparison for what is happening to them now, is the challenge faced by the "professional white" politicians who had to change or fade away.

    January 6, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. kay

    Mr. Burris... get a life... and stop fooling yourself.

    This is not a racial bais just you are too foolish to realise who you are hurting at the end of the day.

    A mad man is not ashamed of his behaviour, but his relative are. Black people are ashamed of you behaviour. Period.

    January 6, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. J.L.

    I'm glad someone said it... kinda feel back for Rep. Bobby Rush though, beats an upstart black state senator who tries to unseat him back in 2000. 8 years later, Rush is still a Congressman and the upstart state senator becomes President...

    January 6, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. Mesa Mick

    Finally, a sane voice on the race card that is trying to be played is heard from.

    BRAVO Mr. Cleaver, BRAVO!

    January 6, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. DJW

    Bobby Bobby – this is not the sixties – Wow Chicago is in bad shape from where I sit. Rev Wright, Ayers, Bago, now Bobby.

    Way to go Rep Cleaver

    January 6, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Nimi from NY

    And it shouldn't. Everything in this country does not have to be about race. People can be objective without being prejudiced. I just can't figure out is why this guy accepted the offer in the first place. Either he likes being in the spotlight or he's power hungry. Either way it doesn't serve him right.

    January 6, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. David S.

    Jeez, its getting pretty sad when there begins the feelings that there is a requirement to have diversity in the congress. Maybe we sould start requiring states to only field latinos or blacks, or asians as candidates. Which states should be reserved as "white" states?

    People like Rush should realize the people of each state vote for their senators, it would be kind of hard to nationalize a plot to omit anyone of color. Democrats are supposed to be the color neutral party, why do they constantly bring up race then?

    January 6, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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