NAACP’s Open Letter to President Bush: The Time is Now for Sudan

Dear Mr. President:

Today, we celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which extends far beyond gains won for African Americans. It is in the spirit of Dr. King’s global witness that we raise our concerns about Darfur.

In his 1963 “Letter from A Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King outlined his rationale for civil disobedience: “…when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”

We agonize over the “degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness'” with regard to our brothers and sisters in Darfur. Because of the international community’s inaction, they now begin their fifth year of genocide. Like Dr. King, we are finding it difficult to wait.

Mr. President, we were encouraged by your initial interventions. More than two years ago when the death toll was reportedly 70,000, you boldly labeled Darfur a “genocide”. You generously funded humanitarian support. Today, however, the body count exceeds 400,000; 2.5 million are displaced. Unfortunately, most world leaders have confronted the madness of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, with pitiful hand-wringing and pathetic head-scratching. This is tantamount to complicity.

Mr. President, we request that you demonstrate authentic leadership. Among the strategies you should pursue are: 1) immediate deployment of a robust UN peacekeeping force; 2) a no-fly zone over Darfur; 3) freezing the assets of all Sudanese officials involved in the genocide; and 4) pressure on China, a major buyer of Sudan’s oil, to use its economic leverage to hold the Sudanese government accountable.

On this day, as we renew our commitment to Dr. King’s legacy, we declare that we can wait no longer. Darfur is descending deeper into despair. The bloodletting has spread to neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. That is why we can’t wait. Increased assaults have rendered the refugee camps perilous. Rapes of women are escalating. Deteriorating security has forced humanitarian groups to evacuate. That is why we can’t wait.

Mr. President, we urge you to heed Dr. King’s admonition:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

We pray, Mr. President, that you will honor Dr. King’s legacy by doing what is right for our brothers and sisters in Sudan and humanity. Too many have died to date. That is why you cannot, and we will not, wait any longer.

Signed,

Bruce Gordon, NAACP
Julian Bond, NAACP
Roslyn Brock, NAACP
Martin Luther King, III
Reverend Al Sharpton
Harry C. Alford, National Black Chamber of Commerce
Reverend Kimberly Barnes, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church
Lem Barney, NFL Hall of Fame
Amy Billingsley, Amistad
Reverend Ronald E. Braxton, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church
Tony Brown
Jamal Bryant, Empowerment Temple
Reverend Louis Coleman, Justice Resource Center
Julius Coles, Africare
Cheryl Cooper, National Council of Negro Women
Larry Davis, Bluestone Records
Vivian Lowery Derryck
Reverend Walter Fauntroy
Mayor Adrian Fenty, Washington, D.C.
Melvin Foote, Constituency For Africa
Danny Glover, Actor/Activist
Dick Gregory, Comedian/Activist
Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, National Council of Negro Women
Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, TX-18
Jeff Johnson, Truth is Power LLC
Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick, MI-13
Crispian Kirk, NAACP
Nicole Lee, Transafrica Forum
John Lindsay, Jr.
Joe Madison, Sudan Campaign
Bishop Vashti Mckenzie, African Methodist Episcopal Church
Melba Moore, Artist/Actress
Shishak Yadet Moshia
Congressman Donald Payne, NJ-10
Shehnaz Rangwala, Education Africa
Ron Richardson, Hushtown Entertainment
Shirley Rivens-Smith, Sister Cities
Evelyn Rivera-Mosquera, Ohio Department of Mental Health
Jeanine B. Scott, Africare
Michael Sterling, National Black Law Students Association
Morrie Turner, Cartoonist
Gloria White-Hammond, My Sister’s Keeper
Roger Wilkins, George Madison University
Faye Williams, National Congress of Black Women
Percy Wilson, International Association of Black Professionals of International Affairs
Emira Woods, Foreign Policy in Focus/Institute for Policy Studies
Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Trinity United Church of Chicago

You too can also sign this letter at naacp.org

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