January 12, 2017
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), wanting publicity, expressed outrage Wednesday that the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled him, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to testify last during a panel of witnesses at Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-Ala.) confirmation hearing for attorney general.
“First, I want to address my concerns about being made to testify at the very end of the witness panels,” Richmond said in his opening statement. “To have a senator, a House member, and a living civil rights legend testify at the end of all of this is the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus. It is a petty strategy, and the record should reflect my consternation at the unprecedented process that brought us here.
“My record on equality speaks for itself, and I don’t mind being last, but to have a living legend like John Lewis handled in such a fashion is beyond the pale, and the message sent by this process is duly noted by me and the 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the 78 million Americans we represent and the over 17 (million) African-Americans that we represent,” he added.
Richmond addressed the fact that the complainants at the center of a 1985 voting fraud case which Sessions prosecuted in Alabama were black, saying, “history is replete with efforts” to recruit other blacks to bring “trumped up charges against law-abiding citizens” engaging in voter education activities.
“Further, on the issue of Senator Sessions’ record of prosecuting the Marion Three, stemming from a complaint filed by African-Americans, I say the following: History is replete with efforts by those in power to legitimize their acts of suppression and intimidation of black voters by recruiting other blacks to assist in bringing trumped up charges against law-abiding citizens who are engaged in perfectly legitimate voter education and empowerment activities,” Richmond said.
“Those tactics were effectively used against former Congressman Robert Smalls and hundreds if not thousands of black office holders and land holders in our post-reconstruction era., and they were used several years ago against Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Turner, who were discussed by this committee yesterday,” Richmond added.