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Op Ed: Reid has stood by African-Americans

Las Vegas Sun, 1/12/2010 - Should you judge a friend by one errant comment, or by 50 years of devotion?

Republicans would have you believe that we should abandon Sen. Harry Reid for a poor choice of words, for one regrettable comment. But to us, a person — or a senator — who has worked by our side and for our cause for decades has earned our support in hard times as well as easy ones.

After all, Sen. Reid has been there, standing by the African-American community, when we needed him most.

Sen. Reid regrets his remark about race. He has apologized to President Barack Obama, and the president has accepted that apology. If the president is willing to say the “book is closed” on this issue, we are, too.

Why? Because we know from Sen. Reid’s efforts to promote diversity on the Las Vegas Strip and across the country that he is a supporter of the African-American community.

Sen. Reid worked side by side with us to integrate the Strip and the gaming industry in the ’70s. He backed affirmative action in federal contracting and was a vocal critic of the Supreme Court’s ruling against cities’ efforts to diversify their schools, which flew in the face of its Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Sen. Reid also recommended the nomination of the first African-American and first woman to serve on the federal bench in Nevada and the first African-American woman to serve on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

And in Washington, Sen. Reid partnered with Howard University to form an internship program that encourages young people of color to get interested in public service and combat what has been called a “dearth of diversity” in congressional staffs.

But even more important is Sen. Reid’s work on behalf of all Americans to improve the economy, stem the tide of foreclosures and pass health insurance reform that will ensure access to affordable care for all. Since a disproportionate number of African-Americans are affected by poverty, predatory lending and lack of access to medical care, these programs are examples of how Sen. Reid has always delivered for our community.

Nevada needs Sen. Reid working on our behalf in Washington now more than ever.

And while Republicans want to take advantage of this situation for political gain, their cries of racism ring hollow. After all, the first Republicans to call on the senator to resign have consistently voted against the interests of African-Americans, whether that meant voting against a minimum wage increase or community policing or efforts to make college more affordable.

Sen. Reid, on the other hand, has consistently earned A’s from the NAACP for a voting record that shows he stands up for African-Americans when they need him most.

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And it’s then that one’s record speaks for us. That’s why we’re standing up for the man and the senator who has always stood up for us.

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