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. FreeNLovIt

    For once and for all, please change the process. It is not Blago's fault or anyone's fault. We dont have laws governing pending official investigation. The right path is the Lt Gov should appoint it. Why dont we quickly pass that law? People, please use your God-given talents.

    January 6, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. proudliberal-independent

    this has absolutely nothing to do with race. it's all about 'taint'. lol.

    January 6, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. BB

    One of my radical conservative friends warned me that if ONE gets a chance, the others force their way in. I'm almost afraid that might be true. Nip it in the bud now. Either earn it, or give it up. NO FREEBIES BASED ON COLOR ALONE.

    And yes, I have radical progressive and radical conservative friends. I'm registered Independent and will always be.

    January 6, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Laverne

    It was certainly a move to stir up more controversy. My advice to Obama is to stay focused and do not be distracted by all this crap. After all the dust settles, this will seem like much of nothing compared to the HUGE challenges facing this country! Stay focused Mr. President and don't let the son of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ get you down!

    January 6, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |

    WHERE'S,,,,,,,,,,,THE,,,,,,,,,,,,RULE,,,,,,,,,,,OF,,,,,,,,,,,,LAW ? ?







    January 6, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    I do think it's weird there are only whites in the senate, but how are people surprised that they turned him down. He was appointed by Blago.

    January 6, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Reg from Germany

    There is no question, Rep. Cleaver is right on the money. We need more black leaders like him around no those lie Mr. Rush who think the seat is a "black seat".

    January 6, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Janice


    I totally agree with you.

    January 6, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    We shouldn't allow Blagojevich to use division to obscure his wrongdoings. I can only wonder why Burris would want the association.

    January 6, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. NICK

    Rep Bobby Rush seems to be reliving the old plantation days himself.
    I wonder if he would trade a Black Pres. for another Black Senator..
    Rush get over your own racist beliefs.. The rest of us have.

    January 6, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Sherrol in Canada

    Black, white, blue, polka dot, that was never the issue for most sane people. Blagojevich rears his ugly head again – what's the matter Blago, the media forgetting you, that's what you wanted wasn't it, or can't you bear Burris getting all the attention??

    This madness has gone on long enough and Burris should be ashamed for lowering himself like this......Geeez, I'm totally disgusted by it all.

    January 6, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Dylan Snyder

    It's frustrating to me to view events such as these, that deal with political correctness and race. Urging the acceptance of Buris' seating simply because there are no black Senators is ridiculous. Yes, please ignore the corruption scandal the man's involved in at the moment, and seat him because it serves to prove a point. "Plantation politics"? Please. If another candidate with the correct credentials and signs of approval arrived, and he was black, his seating would happen without fail. Do you honestly think it's because the man's black that this is happening? Blame his involvement with Blago and the dirty politics that have been exposed, not race. Actually, the fact that the race card is played so often when any non-white race is denied something, regardless of reasoning, is racist in itself. Why can't we move past this. We just elected the first minority President for heavens sake. So please, when discussing matters such as these Mr. Rush, try to observe the actuality of the situation, before diverting to an over-used and innappropriate stereotyping of caucasian individuals. Honestly.

    January 6, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. jean in MN

    Exactly! This whole mess has NOTHING to do with Burris and has EVERYTHING to do with Blagojevich.

    Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment. –Solomon Short

    January 6, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Joanna

    I hope this doesn't turn into a race thing. I can understand how easily race can be misconstrued as a factor. We have come to far. Nobody questions Burris's ability or credentials. It is the Gov they are after. I think he should be seated.

    January 6, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Dan

    Oh, so now you are gonna ask Mr Burris to vacate what has now become his self-annointed black seat? Burris is clearly a self-serving racism-propagating opportunist or he never would have taken such advantage of Blago's tainted appointment. SHAME on Burris. Great shame.

    January 6, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Kim

    As a balck American, I hope other blacks do not see this as a race issue. Blago is using black people to cause a stir. I hope this does not remain an issue. Please congress handle this and get this over with ASAP so we can move on with real business. The black community in Chicago is trying to make this about race. I think this is Burris supporters Please sit down and do not embarrass us!!!

    January 6, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Turnabout is Fair Play

    If Obama was able to deal with Clinton and the McCain/Palin monster, this will be a cakewalk breath of relaxing air for him.

    January 6, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Andrew from Illinois

    I'm hearing what other Black caucus members were saying and I can't believe most of them support Burris. The Senate clearly stated they wouldn't seat ANY appointment by Blago and now it appears some black caucus members are changing sides. But I appreciate Cleaver seeming to try and diffuse some racial tension.

    January 6, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Linda32

    Thank you! It seems like the media is trying very hard to make this a race issue. It's not. Skin color does not and should not determine a Senate seat. Blago was wrong and Burris has also now diminished the intergity of the seat because of his huge ego!

    January 6, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. M. Townsend

    It is important to note the progress in the country on the minority side that there is legitimate debate amongst the black caucus on what is obviously a dangerously wrong precedent to apply color to a senate seat. A time was when the sense of grievance would have trumped good sense.

    Still, two competing points of view here – if the senate fairly reflected the 8% of blacks in the population there would be at least 4 through 12 african americans in senate(+- 50% representation). But there was a time when there was 0 so progress does not happen overnight. Competence and ethics are also mandatory considerations. Good african american senators can well be found within these set of constraints. Still, when all is considered, pinning those statistics to specific seats is flat out wrong.

    January 6, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. RTB

    I believe Mr. Burris should be ashamed of himself for putting himself into the mix. Does he have any self respect? We know he has an ego problem. But that is covering up clear thinking.

    January 6, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. Mobius

    Interesting how you're not hearing WHITE officials calling it a 'black seat'.

    Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies. Progress has already been lost in a crusade to wield power over our population. Nicely done.

    January 6, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Retired Army in San Antonio

    NICK -- January 6th, 2009 1:38 pm ET

    Rep Bobby Rush.......get over your own racist beliefs.. The rest of us have.


    Actually, many have NOT gotten over their racist beliefs. That's why this is going to become a bigger issue than it has 🙁 .

    January 6, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Ken in Dallas

    Each Senator has to represent all the people of his State. Bobby Rush was ruthlessly unjust in attempting to coerce the Senate by making the debate over Burris into a racial dispute. Rush doesn't care about the harm he causes, just so long as he gets his way. Illinois voters should consider this behavior when the next election cycle comes around.

    January 6, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Carter

    Look, so Congressman Rush isn't the most elequent of speakers. Nonetheless, his point was important. It is easy for those of you who have never been subject to discrimination to say "don't worry about it". Electing Obama to office was huge. But it didn't mean that we don't have a problem with diversity. Inclusion will always be an issue, we simply need to accept that and be diplomatic about it.

    January 6, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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