Marc Morial is President & CEO, National Urban League
â€œHaving previously met Representative Steve Scalise through our mutual connection of Louisiana politics, in light of revelations about his 2002 address to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) â€“ founded by ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke â€“ I believed it was critical to initiate a dialogue with the congressman to further determine whether any of EUROâ€™s or Dukeâ€™s bigotry was indeed shared by our nationâ€™s new House Majority Whip.
Today, Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and I had what I hope will be the first of many meetings with Rep. Scalise.Â I will go on record to say that it was a good meeting characterized by respectful dialogue and a thoughtful exchange of ideas between individuals who donâ€™t always see eye-to-eye on policy issues.
While we took a positive step today toward creating a meaningful and real exchange between Civil Rights leadership and House Majority leadership in an open fashion, it would be unrealistic to say that anything was solved or resolved in one 60-minute meeting.Â However, we articulated and discussed a number of issues and walked away with three specific requests that we hope Majority Whip Scalise will act upon in the short-term, including:
- A schedule of regular meetings with Rep. Scalise to focus on critical issues including voting rights and criminal justice reform.
- Facilitation by Rep. Scalise of a broader meeting between House Majority leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Civil Rights leadership to discuss pressing issues facing the nation.
- An address by Rep. Scalise on the floor of the House to personally speak to the EURO issue and to repudiate the David Duke-type racist and divisive rhetoric and politics of yesterday â€“ thus reassuring the American public that as a member of House Majority leadership, he is capable of being fair and inclusive in his judgments and decision-making on behalf of all Americans.
I have been asked whether I would join calls for Rep. Scaliseâ€™s resignation, and following todayâ€™s meeting, I remain undecided.Â I am, however, hopeful that moving forward Rep. Scalise will demonstrate that he is serious about acting in good faith to build relationships across the board that can result in addressing critical issues of national concern â€“ beyond ideology and for the good of all Americans, not a select few.Â In recent years, this dialogue has been largely cut-off by House Majority leadership, and I believe it is of utmost importance that we begin to reengage based on one mandate alone â€“ liberty, justice and economic opportunity for all.