WASHINGTON — Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol , angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "n*****" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis , a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.
The protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus , lawmakers said.
"They were shouting, sort of harassing," Lewis said. "But, it's okay, I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s. It was a lot of downright hate and anger and people being downright mean."
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D- S.C. , said Saturday's ugliness underscored for him that the health care overhaul isn't the only motivation for many protesters.
"I heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960 , when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus," Clyburn said. "This is incredible, shocking to me."
Reading this article made me sad. After all of the sacrifices made by Congressman Lewis and beatings and blood spilled in the fight for equality and a better society, it's just crap that he still has to endure this hate. When I worked for Lewis, I covered the phones generally for an hour a day and periodically in the afternoons. The Chief of Staff had whatever person answering the phone fill out a form about the call. There was a box at the top of the form labeled OBSCENE.
If Congressman Lewis was in D.C., he'd call the Atlanta office at the end of the day and we'd give him a concise recap of the types of calls received from constituents. And we received more than a few obscene calls during my time in Atlanta - even had a racist comment hurled at Lewis during a live interview on CSPAN about black history.