WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 /U.S Newswire/ -- The following was released today by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:
Kweisi Mfume, President & CEO, NAACP, said today that he looks forward to meeting with Rep. Dick Armey and other leading Republican Congressional leaders to turn down racial rhetoric and to lay "the groundwork for a different type of coexistence and cooperation between the NAACP and the Republican Party."
Mfume, in a letter to Armey, a former colleague in the House of Representatives, said:
"On the issue of race the American people have every right to expect that we will work together to achieve real and lasting progress. Under that rubric, our mantra must read, `race baiters of either ilk need not apply.'
On February 17, 2001, Mfume called for meetings between himself and President Bush and leaders of Congress. He said that despite some differences on key issues such as public education, affordable health care, hate crimes, and economic development, "there is no reason for us to have permanent disengagement."
(Below is a copy of Mfume's letter to Rep. Dick Armey.)
Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
February 23, 2001
Honorable Richard Armey
U.S. House of Representatives
H-328 The Capitol
Washington, DC. 20515
It was great hearing from you the other day. I received your letter in the same genuine manner in which you authored it. I'm glad to know that you are deeply concerned about the perils of racial polarization and it's ability to undermine and strangle both social and political progress. As your friend and former colleague I too share a deep concern that the propensity for mischaracterizations by any group or organization in our society to further divide our nation and its communities.
I'm sure that we could agree that there is enough blame to be placed on both sides but the real question is where do we go from here. How do we get beyond the last election in order to build a more perfect union and when will dialogue replace demagoguery on the issue of race in our nation. Like you I know that all Republicans are not racists or bigots and neither are all Democrats saints or saviors.
President Bush, you, Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senator Lott have a tremendous responsibility working with the Democratic minority to set the political tone and temperament of our nation. All of you, myself and countless others in the larger civil rights community have an equally awesome responsibility to help set the social tone and temperament in an effort to prevent anarchy and unbridled anger from ripping our society apart. On the issue of race the American people have every right to expect that we will work together to achieve real and lasting progress. Under that rubric our mantra must read, "race baiters of either ilk need not apply."
The NAACP is deeply concerned about the quality of public education, affordable health care, hate crimes, economic development, national security and the quality of life for all Americans and I'm sure the Republican Party is also. Although on some of these issues we may have principled differences there is no reason for us to have permanent disengagement.
As I stated publicly last week at the NAACP's Annual meeting, I will be writing President Bush in the next several days to request a face to face meeting to begin a new path and a new dialogue absent of accusations and finger pointing. I equally look forward in the interim to sitting down with you at your request to start a similar discussion aimed also at turning down the rhetoric and laying the groundwork for a different type of coexistence and cooperation between the NAACP and the Republican Party.
I too realize that just the mere act of writing this letter opens me up to misinterpretation and bogus charges by those who would prefer maintenance of the status quo but I too hope that no one will mistake my intentions or my willingness to follow through.
I will call the appropriate person in your office on Monday to schedule a meeting around your availability.
President & CEO NAACP
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