Congressional representatives addressing the College Democrats Tuesday night emphasized the importance of equality in America.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) spoke on issues from Census 2000 to equal pay for women in speeches that lasted almost two hours in the Marvin Center Ballroom.
We are too young not to fight for a better America, said Jackson, addressing a crowd of about 100 people. The best place to do it is in the Democratic Party.
Jackson spent most of his time speaking about the economic divides that separate America and how that translates into social problems.
The sooner we get health care for the 44 million people without it, we can settle the race question, Jackson said. If we provide a base for every American, then we do not get into the argument of `that black stole my job, or that Hispanic.’
Jackson said problems with economic equality are not just racial problems.
It does not make sense that women make 70 cents to every dollar a man makes, he said. That is why we need pay equity for women.
Clyburn, who spoke before Jackson, said making sure the year 2000 census will not discriminate is his key priority.
It’s the greatest civil rights issue in the country, Clyburn said. The old method of doing head counts by mail often undercounts people in rural areas that do not have mailboxes, Clyburn said. From these miscounts, rural areas are often underfunded, which leads to overcrowded classrooms, Clyburn said.
Both representatives spoke out against racism, which they said was apparent in the Republican Party, most notably in Sen. Jesse Helms’ (R-N.C.) recent treatment of former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun. Helms recently tried to halt the nomination of Mosley-Braun as ambassador to New Zealand because of concerns over her alleged ethical lapses.
Jesse Helms is really one of the best examples of all that is wrong with our society today, Clyburn said.
Jackson said he believes the Republicans are resorting to pre-Civil War tactics in the South in order to secure votes from whites in the area.
We need to tell Jesse Helms that the Civil War is over, Jackson said. Now we pledge allegiance to the United States, not the Confederacy.
Jackson spoke briefly about the 2000 presidential race, saying that both Democratic candidates, Al Gore and Bill Bradley, are trying to take over the present order – an order that is not acceptable to most Americans.
College Democrats President Anjan Choudhury said that despite running long, the event was a huge success.
They had a lot to say, and I think they got to the heart of the important issues, Choudhury said.