On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death, we should take note of the vast differences on race between John McCain and Barack Obama, and not just the obvious one.
Color of Change sent out the following reminder of John McCain's record in honoring the legacy of Dr. King.
McCain will bring his "Service to America" tour to Memphis on Friday, but many people don't know the service he touts includes voting against the federal holiday honoring Dr. King. In August 1983 he fought the holiday, voting to block a piece of bipartisan legislation honoring him that was supported by even conservative Republicans--including Dick Cheney--and signed into law by President Reagan. It gets worse.
McCain went on to resist recognizing a King holiday in his home state of Arizona. When Arizona's state legislature failed to pass a bill recognizing a holiday honoring Dr. King, the governor at the time, Bruce Babbit, created the holiday by executive order. Babbit's successor, Gov. Evan Mecham rescinded the order as his first act in office, doing away with the holiday. John McCain's response? He defended the governor, not Dr. King. (After undoing the holiday, the same governor went on to publicly support referring to Black people as "pickaninnies").
In 1990, seven years after his initial vote, McCain went along with establishing a King holiday. On the campaign trail in 2000, facing questions about his history on this issue, McCain declared he had "evolved."
Looking at the rest of McCain's public record, even recently, it's hard to see much evidence of an "evolution". In fact, McCain has consistently opposed a civil rights agenda:
* He voted an amazing FOUR times against the Civil Rights Act of 1990--a bill designed to make it easier for employees to prove job discrimination and imposing harsher penalties on bosses who discriminated.
* In 2004 he opposed affirmative action in college admissions--a key component of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that is among King's key legislative victories.
* He has voted at least 8 times against raising the minimum wage.
* And as recently as last month, he argued against federal intervention to help Americans, disproportionately Black Americans, who have faced foreclosure during the housing crisis.
If John McCain has evolved, he hasn't evolved much. Instead, we see a consistent and troubling pattern. From campaigning against Dr. King's holiday to undermining important civil rights laws, John McCain has not stood side by side with King's vision, he has stood in its way.
Today, we hope that everyone will take a moment to pause and remember Dr. King's legacy, recognizing his contributions of words, deeds and ultimately his life. And we hope that all can see past political posturing (regardless of who it comes from) and embrace the bold, challenging vision that King actually projected. We believe that in doing so, we honor both his legacy and his sacrifice.