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

Black lawmakers urge Obama to make Sudan crisis a priority

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Fitz in Texas

    elliott May 19th, 2009 4:51 pm ET

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

    Amen to your statement and right on target!

    May 19, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Fitz in Texas

    James, Phoenix AZ May 19th, 2009 5:35 pm ET

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

    The UN is worthless.

    The UN is worthless and it cost us taxpayers 5 billion, that's 5 billion, a year for something this worthless. Go figure.

    May 19, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  3. Holy cow

    How cares about this poor blacks living and dying in fare? their not Jews!

    May 19, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Pragmatic

    "Everyone says he's so busy but what is he actually doing?" questions someone who must be living under a rock ...

    How about meeting with international leaders about peace in the middle east, commencement speeches, proposals to increase gas milage, credit card reformation ... and that was just the past few days ...

    As for Sudan – not everything can be a priority: Even caregivers know they have to make sure they are healthy first in order to care for someone else.

    May 19, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Lynn

    365 x 4 = 1 460 days in his first tem; he has been president for 128; that leaves 1 232 to fulfill his promises.

    Obama Victim: Exactly how much money did Bush pour into Pakistan while propping up a military dictator? What was Bush's budget for foreign aid? I bet you have no idea!

    May 19, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  6. YBM

    Sounds like controlling the black population in the sudan, to me. A good thing. There are enough RAWP as it is.

    May 19, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Fix America first. Sudan cannot be a priority more than the USA. Once America is healthy, then we can talk about helping. Sorry, but I think Sudan will understand.

    May 19, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  8. Holy cow

    Who cares about the poor blacks of Sudan living and dying in fear? They are not Jews!
    (Sorry I didn’t have my specs on before)

    May 19, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  9. Hammer

    The Democratic Socialist Party should spent as much time and money trying to protect American citizens from the corrupt government in Washington.

    May 19, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. Perusing-through

    TO "ELLIOT" and "RH". ARE YOU STUPID; OR PLAYING STUPID? You know why the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) came into existence. It was due to 200+ years of White Congressional Good 'Ole Boys "ignoring" basic needs of its constituents, such as the abolition of slavery; and termination of racist Jim Crow practices; and a citizen's right to vote. There would be no CBC if White Congressional Good 'Ole Boys had served its entire constituents fairly, equally, and as the Good LORD teaches.

    May 19, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. i care

    what affects one directly. affects another indirectly! now where did i get that from?

    May 19, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. gl, Pittsburgh

    This county can not take on every body. Some of this countries need to handle their on problems. Yes, we all knew President can not keep all his pomises and this is one of the. Just like the don't ask and don't tell. This country is in a big mess and President do no have time for petty things.

    May 19, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. No Hope

    why doesnt the black caucus take their racist attitudes and GIVE IT A BREAK. Just Shut Up For ONCE

    May 19, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. Albo58

    What would be shocking is IF the Congressional Black Caucus ever did something that did involve race (specifically the Black race!), then most of us would be shocked to tears! This archaic group needs to go the way of the Unions, the hula-hoop, and the horse & buggy!

    May 19, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. ShiWms n Phx AZ

    @ willy brown...why so much hate and anger? You must be obviously someone who has never suffered or felt the pain of bigotry and racism. All of your comments are down right mean and ugly. Im gonna pray that your kind of folk continue to be irrelevant...

    May 20, 2009 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
1 2 3