Forty-eight days before Election Day, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said the tight race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney is perhaps the most crucial presidential contest since the Jim Crow era.
And African-Americans, Cleaver warned, must pack the polls on Nov. 6 with a clear sense of urgency.
“African-Americans will have to be more vigilant with this election than any election since 1865,” Cleaver, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“We know [some black voters] are going to be excluded from voting,” said Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri. “We’re re-fighting the same battles that were fought during Jim Crow.”
Cleaver is referring to the millions of African-Americans who are at risk of being ineligible to vote in this year's presidential election because of strict voter identification laws that are being championed by Republicans.
Thirty-four states have pending laws that call for voters to present government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot. Conservatives insist that the new rules will prevent voter impersonation fraud, but civil rights activists maintain the laws are specifically designed to keep minorities from voting.
The debate over voter ID laws has become a flashpoint racial issue leading up to the presidential election in November. More than five million people of color could be impacted by these voter suppression laws, low-income and elderly citizens who cannot afford multiple forms of ID.
As the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference kicks off this week in Washington, D.C., Cleaver said the convention will feature a town hall meeting Friday specifically designed to address voting rights and voter suppression tactics.
“Any questions that come up about voting rights,” Cleaver said, “we’ll have an answer.”
“Some people suggest this is about a party this week,” he added. “But we’re heavy on braintrusts and workshops because this is a very significant year. We’re trying hard to get the word out.”
The town hall meeting, Cleaver said, is one of 70 workshops the conference will sponsor this week. The convention ends Saturday with First Lady Michelle Obama keynoting the annual awards dinner while President Obama campaigns for re-election.
Cleaver also weighed in on Romney’s latest controversial gaffe, where Romney was secretly videotaped in May before a small group of well-heeled supporters.
“Forty-seven percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
"[My] job is not to worry about those people,” Romney added. “I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
It turns out that Romney was flat-out wrong with his statistics and his premise. Still, Cleaver said, this could all be a carefully-orchestrated political smokescreen at a time when several major polls show the race tightening.
“I think this is a pretty good indicator of the kind of [Romney] presidency we can expect,” Cleaver said. “But this wasn’t just a political faux pas. My level of paranoia and cynicism says he wanted that release because it speaks to the part of his base that has not completely accepted him.”
“He wants voters to believe that we are parasites just looking to get something for free; that we have no sense of responsibility; that we want government to take care of us,” Cleaver added. “I’m just not ready to believe that this video release was an accident.”
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/7-10/14)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Nite | to the tune of @cnn 😞
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2. Got so much work to do but I just wanna stay in bed and binge watch #Gameofthrones and start the new season of #OnceUponATime. I know I can't be the only one. Right? Ha 💤🦁🍂 #saturday
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3. Mommy's weekend turn up ❤️👶🏾💕🍼 Wouldn't trade it for nothing. #TeamNoSleep lol #HesMyBiggestBlessing ✨
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4. One of them oh shit mont we made it feelings … this shit still be unreal 💯💪🏾 @remyboymonty1738
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5. Tickets Available October 14 @ticketmaster.
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6. People magazine Home edition has raided my house! Get a sneak peek into the bedroom life of the Leakes and see other parts of my home now at PEOPLE.COM
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7. They want to kick you when you down, but kick it when you up
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8. Got my advance copy of #Mafia3 at @gamestop. Get yours via link in the bio #Mafia3 #Ad
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9. This is some of the cast and our diverse team of writers in the writer's room creating funny sh*t for @nbcmarlon what a fun room! Lots of jokes, great stories and having a great time doing what we love... making people laugh and feel something. Look out for our show next year @nbcmarlon we bringing sitcoms back to NBC
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10. #HappySunday☀️Thank you @4everbrandy101 💛💡💛
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11. Happy to be back in Central Falls, RI breaking ground for the One Stop Health Center and hosting a local community event with #Vaseline.
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12. Thank you all in advance 💋💋💋 #Repost @urbansvintage・・・#TarajiPHenson's memoir #AroundTheWayGirl will be available everywhere TODAY October 11th! Will you be purchasing a copy? #UrbansVintage
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13. Moms got my back
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14. @galore dinner party glo ✨ thanks to @styledbygiigii
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15. 🌹#ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLikeTOUR #forevereve
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16. Yes, all those videos I've been posting have led to this: the introduction of skincare to @TYRABeauty! This is the rundown on the new line:Years of research and beauty tips I live by led me to produce the most effective and delightful skincare out there. I'm all about taking really good care of my skin, so I can look like I'm aging in #TyraYears and go filter free on Instagram when I feel like it! Now, it's your turn. ✨My Mama always told me not to wash my face with just my hands. "Tyra, girl, you're just moving the dirt around!" And I've listened. First up is The Clean Machine.... ...a 3-in-1 foaming face wash that cleanses, removes makeup and purified your skin. It has patented technology - a attached Turbo Cleansing Tool - to give you that deep clean that makes your skin feel super fresh. Wanna know more? Yeah, baby. Click that link in my bio.
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17. On set of #beingmaryjane like... ❤️😬💃🏾
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18. #carouselofhope@yvetteshelton100@makeupbylatrice @thestacetheface@marialuciahohan24
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19. I refuse to let a little cold stop me from my daily routines to greatness. #onlythestrongsurvive #warriors
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20. Big things begin with big THINKING... #BusinessEthics #SetLife 🎥
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21. Goodnight - here's a song
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22. Words can't explain the feeling that I have right now.....God is good. look momma I made it. #Harts #Blessed #WhatNow #comedicrockstarshit #4DaysAway
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23. I tried to get a better video with out the nasty bib but she started getting mad at me..lol! Big cuz @the_queen_caitlin trying to show her what to do. #MamasToots #HeirBear👑💜
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24. Gorgeous Serena joined Beyoncé in Formation last night on stage in New Jersey!!!
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25. 😜 @lifeofdesiigner & @rockohill
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