November 2008 Independent Woman of the Month – Cynthia McKinney
November 8, 2008
Born in Georgia in 1955, Cynthia McKinney’s early years were informed and inspired by the American Civil Rights movement. Her father took her to demonstrations and later, jump started her entry into politics by submitting her name as a Congressional candidate while she was living overseas. It’s impossible to talk about McKinney without talking about politics – it is through her political career that she has done most of her activism and been so well known for being outspoken and causing controversy.
Cynthia McKinney was elected to Congress in 1992 as a Democrat and became the first African-American women to represent Georgia in the House. She is best known for her challenges to George Bush and his administration regarding the 9/11 attack on the U.S., the Iraq war, and the response to hurricane Katrina.
Asked about the role black female legislators hope to play in Congress, McKinney declared in the Washington Post : “We’re shaking up the place. If one of the godfathers says you can’t do this, my next question is: ‘Why not? And, who are you to say we can’t?'”
McKinney ran for President of the U.S. in 2008 on the Green Party ticket along with running mate Rosa Clemente. Despite being the only all women of color ticket, they were given virtually no mainstream media coverage even though they were on the ballot in enough states to mathematically be able to win.
Whatever your politics, McKinney is to be admired for her strength, courage and determination in the face of obstacles, particularly the racism she encountered as a black, female member of Congress.
Most inspiring to me is that even after crushing defeats, such as losing her seat in Congress, she came back fighting. She regained her seat, lost it again and most recently got just .1% of the vote in the U.S. Presidential election. I don’t know where Cynthia’s going next or what she’s planning but I know she won’t forget the causes she champions and she will never give up the fight.
For more information about McKinney, I highly recommend the article mentioned above, as well as the documentary film, “American Blackout”, which not only covers McKinney’s Congressional career but delves into the voter disenfranchisement controversies of the U.S. Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. The film is currently available in its entirety on Google Video.
American Blackout (2006)