Many of U.S. lawmakers will flock to the small city of Selma, Alabama to commemorate the civil rights anniversary, but the GOP’s top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — will miss the three-day event despite pressure from rank-and-file Republicans and black lawmakers.
“It is very disappointing that not a single Republican leader sees the value in participating in this 50th commemoration of the signing of the Voting Rights Act,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina. “The Republicans always talk about trying to change their brand and be more appealing to minority folks and be in touch with the interests of African-Americans. This is very disappointing."
Former CBC Chair Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio) agreed.
“Not only do they have an opportunity to participate in something that is historic in this country, but certainly they’ve lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care,” she said.
The Republican leadership gave insufficient excuses for not attending like House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's reasoning. The Louisiana Republican — who was reported to have given a speech to a white supremacist group — said a scheduling conflict was keeping him from participating.
Despite efforts to cater to ethnic minorities (such as the more diversified Republican electorate with the 2014 election), the GOP leadership’s failure to show up to commemorate a significant moment in civil rights history solidifies the perceived standard that Republicans really are a party for the white American man.