Leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said today Sen. Trent Lott's decision to resign as the Senate Majority Leader was the right thing to do in the wake of recent bigoted remarks he made during a celebration for Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday.
Kweisi Mfume, NAACP President & CEO, said: "Trent Lott's comments have no place in America. His insensitivity toward the pain of racial prejudice makes it impossible for him to know how deep it cuts. The Republican Party now has the opportunity to break from a past that is still marred by racial insensitivity, but it will require more than just words, or this resignation. It will require deeds."
Julian Bond, Chairman of the Board of Directors, said: "This is a good first step for the Republican Party. Now they've got to reverse four decades of dependence on racist elements in their base. They can do this by embracing the generally accepted remedies for racial discrimination by replacing the rhetoric of outreach with the reality. "
The NAACP was the first major civil rights organization to call for Lott's resignation as Majority Leader because of his comments and past record in opposition to civil rights. In speaking glowingly of Thurmond, Lott said: "When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had of followed our lead we wouldn't of had all these problems over all these years, either." Thurmond, the outgoing senator from South Carolina, ran for president in 1948 on a staunch segregationist platform.
Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), considered the front-runner for the Majority Leader post, like Lott, received a grade of "F" on the NAACP Congressional Report Card, as did other mentioned candidates, senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Don Nickles of Oklahoma and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The "F" grade means they voted than 60 percent against legislation supported by the NAACP.
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