Newark, NJ - Peace activist and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney visited here July 28, speaking at a meeting of the People’s Organization for Progress. The room was packed as over 200 people turned out to hear her speak about her recent visit to Libya, the latest country to be victimized by NATO aggression.
At the beginning of the program McKinney was given an Award of Merit presented by local people’s activists. A motion was made and passed by acclamation to declare her an honorary member of the People’s Organization for Progress.
She began by noting that Newark and New Jersey are in the grip of economic crisis. The official ideals are devoted to the people, but nonetheless the people are forced to fight for things like jobs and healthcare and to stop police brutality. If the government really cared about the people it would take care of them. Instead the people must fight to see who will be the winners.
McKinney said she takes her vision of Libya from the people she met there. They said, “This is our land and what lies underneath it belongs to us. We aren’t going to let anyone take it away. We will fight to the last person and the last bullet.”
The visitors’ group that flew to Libya had to land far from the capital city of Tripoli. They had to take a six-hour trip by automobile. “People have set up checkpoints,” said Ms. McKinney. “All cars going into Tripoli must be searched. But the people at the checkpoints are not police or military personnel. They are ordinary folks.”
People told her that if it were not for the NATO bombing they could have dispatched the ‘rebels in a matter of days. As it is, innocent people are dying from the bombs. Vital underground water pipes, that serve the needs of large numbers of people, have been destroyed.
A university in Libya was bombed while McKinney was there. She said that university tuition is free. Students there don’t know what tuition is. If a Libyan can get accepted at any institution of higher learning the government will pay his or her expenses to go there and study.
Medical care is also free. If a government cares about its people it wants them to be healthy. If a government does not care about its people that will also be reflected in what it does. In Libya food is subsidized. In the U.S. 25% of the children in the United States go to bed hungry.
Turning to her domestic political experience, McKinney said that if we want a government that respects us we cannot give our votes away for free. Referencing her home state of Georgia, she said it needs a Black Manifesto: “A Black Manifesto had been formulated in Georgia and circulated to lawmakers. An attempt was made to operationalize it. Lawmakers were asked to respond and recommendations were made according to the responses without regard to party affiliation. Experience proved that elected officials were more loyal to the Democratic Party than to the voters who elected them. 40% of Georgia’s population is made up of black people. Georgia has the largest state legislative Black Caucus in the country...and they have come up with nothing.”
McKinney still maintains it is possible to do better. “Libya is not perfect,” she said, “but we deserve a better country than we have. We have to change a little bit about the way we vote and who we elect to office so we can get better.”