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US Congresswoman McKinney Meets Progressive Constituents at Film Screening

(APN) DECATUR – US Congresswoman McKinney (D-GA) wowed a progressive audience here at the packed Push Push Theater during a forum following a screening of the film “American Blackout.” “You are like a Malcolm X,” one audience member said.

About 100 progressive activists and concerned citizens from Atlanta and Decatur had the opportunity to interact with the Congresswoman, who answered constituent questions for over an hour.

The screening was cosponsored by Atlanta Progressive News and Georgia For Democracy.

Congresswoman McKinney praised the work of Atlanta Progressive News in providing the truth to the people, and emphasized how important it is for the public to have good and accurate information.

The film, “American Blackout,” made by independent producers, the Guerilla News Network, chronicles the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004 in the US, as well as the struggles of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in recent years as she has come under attack by Republicans and the mega-corporate media.

Some of the election issues discussed in the movie include the faulty felon voter lists used in Florida; and long lines in minority districts. The film talks less about problems with electronic voting and provisional ballots, although Congresswoman McKinney highlighted these issues in her remarks.

While many people have become aware of the use of faulty felon voter purge lists in Florida in 2000, which were produced by Atlanta’s own Choicepoint Corporation, the movie shows fascinating footage of Congresswoman McKinney interviewing representatives of Choicepoint, the Florida Elections Division, and former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

In the footage, Choicepoint admits to knowing the lists were faulty, but said Florida Elections Division said they only wanted 80% accuracy so it was okay. In the footage also, Katherine Harris defers all questions to the Elections Division and admits she was aware of the faulty lists. Harris is currently a US Congresswoman in Florida and is running an uphill race for US Senate.

Subsequent coverage of these lists by the Miami Herald led to greater scrutiny of the purge list in Florida. It is almost certain if everyone had been allowed to vote who was supposed to, Gore would have won Florida, and thus, the 2000 Presidency. Gore, however, chose not to fight it and asked Senator Boxer not to intervene at the time.

In the forum, Congresswoman McKinney urged constituents to work towards the reenfranchisement of ex-felons who have completed their sentences in Georgia. Many states are reevaluating their felon voting laws nationwide.

Another really interesting fact revealed by the movie is how the megacorporate media repeatedly made false assertions regarding the Congresswoman’s comments concerning the Bush’s administration’s attempts to deflect questions concerning 9/11.

The movie shows she never stated the Bush administration planned 9/11; however, one news outlet after another has said she did.

The film also showed the behind-the-scenes work of McKinney’s Congressional Campaign staff, who have monitored polling places all over Georgia for irregularities during elections.

In one instance, a member of McKinney’s staff threatened federal action when the supervisor of a polling location refused to issue a provisional ballot to a voter. Provisional ballots were federally mandated after the 2000 election, and even though they weren’t counted in 2004 in Ohio as Greg Palast as pointed out, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox improperly insisted that her office be contacted for permission when a precinct requested one for a voter.

The film also featured compelling interviews with US Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, John Lewis, Bernie Sanders (who is currently running for US Senate in Vermont), and John Conyers.

The screening was attended by current Georgia Secretary of State candidate Angela Moore.

Members of the audience asked a range of questions, and Congresswoman McKinney seemed delighted to address many of them.

For one thing, the Congresswoman urged progressives to find ways to come together, and bridge the gaps which have historically divided us. These have included race as well as, more recently, sexual orientation.

Blacks and Whites coming together, as occurring the evening of the screening, she said, is what scares Republicans enormously.

She also said Black homosexuals need to be more open about who they are. McKinney told the story of her grandmother who was Black per her genealogy but whose skin color was closer to that of Whites. She said her grandmother refused to sit on the train in a Whites-only section–this was decades ago–even though it may have been easier for her to do so.

McKinney also urged individuals to reach out to Black clergy and other community leaders to help convince them to accept homosexuals as equal. She said it was more realistic to reach out to community leaders, than, say, Ralph Reed.

One member of the glbt community asked about a proposed strategy that homosexual voters cross over and vote in the Republican primary for Ralph Reed’s opponent, to ensure he doesn’t get past the Primary.

Congresswoman McKinney said she did not support that plan. This is noteworthy given the fact that the Republican crossover vote for McKinney’s opponent Denise Majette in 2002 led to Majette’s Primary victory. Majette later lost in 2004 when she ran for US Senate and Cynthia McKinney regained her US House seat.

American Blackout showed pretty clearly what Atlanta Progressive News has been reporting for some time concerning Denise Majette’s Republican support. Majette is currently running for State School Superintendent. Atlanta Progressive News has endorsed Majette’s opponent, Carlotta Harrell.

Atlanta Progressive News also announced its endorsement of McKinney the day before the film, incidentally. Creative Loafing, an alternative publication of Atlanta, on the other hand, endorsed McKinney’s current primary opponent, Mr. Hank Johnson.

Community member Ann Mauney asked McKinney about her thoughts regarding a possible invasion of Iran. McKinney said this is something we should be worried about, even more so as it gets closer to the end of the Bush administration.

McKinney said the Bush administration consists of cowards.

APN Staff Writer Betty Clermont asked McKinney whether she thought using absentee ballots were a good idea. Unfortunately, the Congresswoman did not express much confidence in absentee ballots as they could get lost in the mail.

APN Editor Matthew Cardinale asked McKinney about her thoughts on the upcoming VoterGA lawsuit over electronic voting in the state of Georgia. “I’m gonna support anything that will bring integrity to our democracy because we don’t have it now,” she said, adding she could not specifically support the lawsuit at this time because she had not read the briefs on it yet.

One member of the audience asked the Congresswoman to identify three main issues which she thought could bring the progressive community together as an overarching platform. She named human rights, caring for the environment, and the character of our society as the three.

Atlanta Progressive News was very pleased to host this function. We would like to thank APN Board Member and Staff Writer Susan Keith for all her work on this function; Susan also is a member of Georgia for Democracy, which also co-sponsored the event. We would also like to thank McKinney’s Congressional Staff; the Push Push Theater, Guerilla News Network; and those in attendance.

APN and GFD will be hosting a second screening at the First Iconium Baptist Church at 7pm Thursday.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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