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Take Five: Rep. John Conyers

Conyers (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo).

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, the Dean of the House, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who has been attending States of the Union since being elected in 1964, talks about hearing Lyndon B. Johnson speak, Detroit and his long tenure in public office. Q : Which president do you think gave the best State of the Union speeches?  

A : In my first term as a member of Congress, I had the honor of hearing President Lyndon B. Johnson deliver the 1965 State of the Union Address, in which he described his domestic agenda and vision for a “greater society.”  The Democratic Party was in the majority at the time and the address was his blueprint for a more progressive America that included topics we still debate in Congress today — such as earning a livable wage, access to affordable health care and federal support for education. Most notably, President Johnson’s address expressly focused on the need to enact a law to prohibit racial discrimination in voting and protect the voting rights of African-Americans. The president’s call for this legislation would later be introduced as the Voting Right Act of 1965, the first major piece of legislation I voted on. Restoring the VRA remains a pivotal focus of my legislative priorities, especially after the Supreme Court gutted critical sections of the bill in 2013.  

Q . When it comes to Michigan cars, are you more of a Ford man or a Jeep man?  

A : I am a Ford and General Motors man.  

Q : What is the best quality of the city of Detroit?  

A : Detroit is the epicenter of organized labor, the birthplace of Motown music and where Rosa Parks, a civil rights hero, eventually called home. When you have a truly American city that is full of hardworking and good people, great food, striking architecture and immense hope toward the future — it is hard to narrow down what is the “best” quality of the Motor City.  

Q : If someone was traveling to Detroit and wanted a food recommendation, where would you send them?  

A : Be sure to grab a bite to eat at Eastern Market. One of the largest farmers’ markets in the country, you can pick up a variety fresh and specialty foods raised by local farmers at affordable prices.  

Q : What do you like to read?  

A : Both The New Yorker and The Nation.

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