CBC chairman Emanuel Cleaver: Blacks who don’t vote should ‘give their color back’

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II

Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) speaks during day two of the Democratic National Convention on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressional Black Caucus chairman Emanuel Cleaver said yesterday that blacks who decide not to vote “ought to give us their color back.”

The Democratic Missouri congressman was addressing other congress members at a CBC forum on voting rights, CNS News reported.

“That’s why I become so angry at any African-American who refuses to vote. They are not worth the color if they don’t vote,” Cleaver told the audience. “They ought to give us their color back. Their African-American credentials need to be snatched if they don’t.”

He reminded the audience of the challenges African Americans had to overcome in order to vote. Black voters often had to take literacy tests and pay steep taxes in order to cast a ballot.

Cleaver called the decision not to vote “an insult to the ancestors and the people who brought us to where we are right now.”

“There’d be no Black Caucus but for the black men and women who fought and died that we might have an opportunity to gather here in Washington that there would be 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.”

Just last week, another African-American leader took a stand for the importance of voting. Pastor Jay Thornton, of Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, displayed a graphic image of a 1930s lynching in front of his church. The sign read “VOTE!!” followed by “Is this a reason to vote?” On the other side the sign read, “Lest We Forget.”

Thornton told WISH-TV he did it to “let people know there’s been a price paid for the privilege of voting.”

These pleas to African-American voters come after many states have implemented strict photo ID requirements for voting. A recent study has shown these laws will disenfranchise a majority of minority and young voters.

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