Civil Rights Group Fires Back at GOP for Ridiculing Community Organizing

Posted September 4, 2008 at 7:07pm

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama came under attack Wednesday night by several Republican convention speakers for his service as a community organizer in Chicago, including a zinger from GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who said, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.” Now, civil rights groups are fighting back.

This evening, Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, released a statement titled, “America is Built on the Contributions of Community Organizers.”

In it, Henderson said organizers “have provided the leverage for Americans to organize themselves into unions, get the five-day work week, voting rights for every citizen, paid maternity leave and the curb cuts used by people with disabilities and young mothers with strollers.”

Invoking the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Clara Barton and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Henderson said that while his group is nonpartisan, “we do take exception when anyone disparages the vast contributions of community organizers to American society.”

He added, “Nothing is done in a vacuum. Someone has to organize it to get it done. That is the simple and great role of a community organizer.”