1/21/08 US Fed. News
WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 -- The presidential campaign of former Sen. John
Edwards, D-N.C., issued the following news release:
Columbia, South Carolina - Speaking at the NAACP's King Day at the
Dome rally today, John Edwards remembered the life and legacy of the
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and called on Americans to honor
Dr. King by speaking out against injustice and inequality . At the
State Capitol in Columbia, Edwards spoke about the Two Americas that
exist in our country - one for those at the top and another for
everyone else - and urged Americans to follow Dr. King's example and
take action to build One America.
"I had the privilege about a year ago of speaking at the Riverside
church in Harlem, a place where Dr. King had spoken 40 years ago. He
had come there to speak about the war in Vietnam. And the words he
used, he said there comes a time in all our lives, where if we stand
quiet, if we stand silent when our conscience tells us to speak,
that our silence is a betrayal. It is a betrayal of ourselves, it is
a betrayal of the country we love so much. Brothers and sisters we
can no longer stand silent. We have to speak out and we must speak
"It is time for us to not remain silent about this war in Iraq,"
Edwards continued. "It is time for us to bring our men and women
home from Iraq. It is time for our voices to be heard loud and
clear. It is time that we no longer stand silent because silence is
betrayal to 37 million people who wake up every single day in
America living in poverty, worried about feeding and clothing their
children. This is the great moral issue of our time. It was the
central issue, along with equality, in the life of Dr. King.
"Here in South Carolina, we talk about the Corridor of Shame.
Brothers and sisters, we must turn the Corridor of Shame into a
corridor of hope and opportunity for the people of South Carolina.
We as a nation have an opportunity to deal with this great moral
issue. So brothers and sisters, my message for today, is that we're
in this today. We are united in this effort to create hope and
opportunity, and it is time for us to say enough is enough. We're
better than this. The United States of America is better than this.
It is time for us to stand up, speak out, rise up together as one
people and create the kind of America that all of us believe in and
all of us are fighting for."
Born to a working class family and raised in the segregated South,
Edwards has seen inequality up close. He has made equality of
opportunity the central tenet of his campaign and has spent his life
fighting to make sure every American has the same chances to get
ahead that he has had. Edwards is traveling across South Carolina as
part of his "Achieving the Dream for Hard-working Families" to
discuss with South Carolinians his plans to make sure all Americans
have the chance to work hard and create a better life for their
children. To build One America with opportunity for all, Edwards has
outlined a comprehensive agenda to:
* Guarantee health care for every American and address the shameful
racial and ethnic health disparities.
* Strengthen schools so every child gets a great education, provide
universal early childhood education classes for four-year-olds, and
make college more affordable.
* End the disgrace of two criminal justice systems and support
alternatives to incarceration for first-time, non-violent offenders
as well as reentry programs.
* Create safe and affordable housing near good jobs, promote
economically integrated neighborhoods and crack down on the scourge
of predatory mortgage lending.
* Protect the right to vote by restoring the right to vote in all
federal elections to ex-offenders who have served their sentence and
supporting secure and accessible voting ballots for all voting
* End poverty in America by strengthening families, help workers
save and get ahead, reach overlooked rural areas, and expect people
to help themselves by working whenever they are able.
* Help small businesses by increasing federal contracting
opportunities for minority-owned small business and use the power of
the federal government to help small business.
* Ensure environmental justice by maintaining access to the courts,
disclosing the risks of plants, and enforcing the Clean Air Act
strongly across the country.
* Enforce civil rights laws by strengthening the Civil Rights
Division of the Department of Justice, choosing judges who are
committed to protecting civil rights, and appointing officials who
vigorously enforce our civil rights laws.
* Close the digital divide by establishing a national broadband
policy with a goal of giving all U.S. homes and businesses
affordable access to real high-speed internet by 2010 and
prohibiting telephone and cable companies from discriminating
against rural or low-income communities in building their networks.
For more information on Edwards' plan to build One America, with
opportunity for all, please see the fact sheet below. Building One
America: Opportunity for All South Carolinians
"Everyone in America - regardless of the family you were born into,
the color of your skin or the country your family came from - should
have an equal chance for a better life." - John Edwards
There are Two Americas, one favored and the other forgotten. While
they are not defined by race, the Two Americas have a
disproportionate impact on people of color and in many ways reflect
the hateful legacy of racism - slavery, segregation, and then
discrimination. As someone who grew up in the segregated South, John
Edwards feels a special responsibility on the issue of race in
America and has made equality of opportunity the central tenet of
his campaign. To build One America and make sure everyone has the
same chances that America has given to him, he supports:
Guaranteeing Health Care for Every American: Forty-seven million
Americans don't have health insurance, including one out of five
African Americans in South Carolina. Families with insurance
struggle to pay skyrocketing premiums. Edwards has a specific plan
for truly universal health care that takes on the insurance and drug
companies and provides better care at a lower cost. He will address
shameful racial and ethnic health disparities with new research,
preventive care without co-payments, pro-active treatment for
chronic diseases and increased diversity among health care
professionals. [Census Bureau, 2007; Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007]
Strengthening Schools So Every Child Can Succeed: More than 50 years
after Brown v. Board of Education, our education system remains
shockingly unequal. Only 56 percent of South Carolina's
African-American graduate from high school. Edwards has proposed a
universal early childhood education classes for four-year-olds and a
Smart Start act to promote young children's healthy development. He
will raise invest in teacher pay and professional development,
starting with high-poverty schools, and create a new National
Teachers University. He will overhaul No Child Left Behind to reject
cheap standardized tests and invest more in struggling schools. He
will also make college more affordable through his College for
Everyone program that will pay the first year of public-college
tuition, books and fees for students willing to work part-time and
stay out of trouble. [Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006]
Ending the Disgrace of Two Criminal Justice Systems: Our prison
population has increased more than tenfold in the course of a single
generation, with a disproportionate impact on African-American
communities. Edwards will reform sentencing rules to address the
disparity in punishments for crimes involving crack and powder
cocaine and limit mandatory minimum sentences for first-time,
non-violent offenses. Edwards supports alternatives to incarceration
- such as drug courts - for first-time, non-violent offenders as
well as reentry programs that include drug treatment, literacy
education and training to help ex-offenders get back on their feet.
Creating Safe and Affordable Housing: More new jobs have been
created in the suburbs, outside the inner cities where many
African-Americans live and beyond the reach of mass transit.
African-Americans have the lowest homeownership rate in the country.
Predatory lenders have targeted African-American homeowners. Edwards
will promote economically integrated neighborhoods, enforce fair
housing laws, encourage more affordable housing, create more than 1
million new housing vouchers and crack down on the scourge of
predatory mortgage lending.
Protecting the Right to Vote: Edwards will restore the right to vote
in all federal elections to ex-offenders who have served their
sentences. He supports secure and accessible voting ballots for all
voting machines and believes we should allow voters to register on
Election Day, ending the fiasco of purge lists, provisional ballots
and voter registration intimidation.
Ending Poverty in America: Every day, 37 million Americans wake up
in poverty, including 640,000 South Carolinians and one out of every
four African Americans. Edwards has set a goal of eliminating
poverty within a generation by strengthening families, helping
workers save and get ahead, reaching overlooked rural areas, and
expecting people to help themselves by working whenever they are
able. To reward work, he will create 1 million stepping stone jobs,
raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2012, expand the earned income
tax credit and strengthen labor laws to make it easier for workers
to join a union. He will also help working families build wealth by
matching their savings through Work Bonds and Get Ahead tax credits
and taking on abusive lenders. [Census Bureau, 2007]
Helping Small Businesses: Entrepreneurship has always given minority
communities a toehold in the American economy. Edwards will increase
federal contracting opportunities for minority-owned small business
and use the power of the federal government to help small business.
To help businesses offering health care, the Edwards health care
plan will eliminate at least $130 billion a year in wasteful health
care spending and reduce the cost of a typical family policy by
$2000 to $2500 a year. And new Health Care Markets will bring down
costs for small businesses through negotiating power and
administrative efficiencies, making it easier for them to care for
Environmental Justice: The devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita - and their disparate impact on African-American communities
living in the low-lying neighborhoods of the Gulf - is perhaps the
most vivid example of why environmental justice is a matter of life
and death. Proximity to toxic wastes is correlated more closely with
race than with any other factor. African-Americans have high rates
of environmental-related illnesses, like asthma and lung cancer,
because nearly three-quarters live in areas in violation of Clean
Air Act standards. John Edwards is committed to equal justice for
all Americans, and that includes environmental justice. To give
communities the tools to defend their rights, we must maintain
access to the courts, disclose the risks of plants, and enforce the
Clean Air Act strongly across the country. [Mohai, 2007; Lowery et
al., 2002 ]
Enforcing Civil Rights Laws: Our laws are only as good as the men
and women who enforce and interpret them. Too many key Bush
appointees and judicial nominees have had questionable commitments
to equality under law. Edwards is committed to strengthening the
Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, choosing judges
who are committed to protecting civil rights, and appointing
officials who vigorously enforce our civil rights laws.
Closing the Digital Divide: Forty percent of African Americans don't
have access to the Internet. African-American children are about 35
percent less likely to have a computer and Internet at home than
white children. As president, Edwards will establish a national
broadband policy with a goal of giving all U.S. homes and businesses
affordable access to real high-speed internet by 2010 and prohibit
telephone and cable companies from discriminating against rural or
low-income communities in building their networks.