Black ministers circle the wagons for Senator Burris


Nearly every day over the past week or so, groups of African-American ministers, community leaders, lawyers or politicians have held news conferences and rallies in Chicago to pronounce their support for Burris and to ask that calls for his resignation stop.

And the Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus is even stronger in its defense of Burris. “We want to say collectively together, we want this cutting and bleeding to stop,” says Alderman Carrie Austin, who chairs the Black Caucus. “To just muck up somebody’s 30-plus-years record, loyalty to the Democratic Party, and now for all of them to turn on him — we say it’s time for this to stop, and if it does not, we shall remember this at the next election.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who had called for Burris to resign but who may want to run for a full term as governor next year, appears to have received the message.

Quinn denies that his own future political fortunes were a factor in his decision to back off of Burris. But Chicago Tribune political columnist Clarence Page says racial interests appear to be outweighing ethical concerns.

Clarence Page — who is black — sees this as many whites do: that there would and should be calls for Burris to resign whether or not he was black. Most blacks however are only too aware that Burriss is the only black in the US Senate and yet blacks are more than 10 percent of the US population. For those who have been on the receiving end of racism it is not difficult see Senator Burris’ treatment as one more instance of racism.

On February 19th the White House suggested Senator Burris take the weekend to think about his future — the clear suggestion being he should resign over the latest revelations. But Senator Burris appears to held on for now, and his fellow Democrats in Illinois have gotten the message to back off or risk reelection.

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