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Clinton Honored As 'First Black President' at Black Caucus Dinner -- 10/01/2001

Clinton Honored As 'First Black President' at Black Caucus Dinner
By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer
October 01, 2001

( - Former President Bill Clinton was honored as the nation's first black president Saturday at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Awards Dinner on in Washington, DC.

The chair of the all-Democratic caucus, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), told the crowd that Clinton "took so many initiatives he made us think for a while we had elected the first black president."

Clinton, who has spoken at the caucus every year since his 1992 election, made reference to the September 11th terrorist attacks, saying that black Americans have seen these kinds of religious tactics before.

He described the terrorists' philosophy as "somebody who thinks that only people in their community count and we're not part of their community; that only their reading of the scripture counts and we don't read the way they do. We have been on the other end of that, and we say no, no, no."

Clinton said Arab Muslims and non-Arab Muslims who don't agree with the terrorists are considered apostates who have walked away from the faith. "And those of us who don't happen to fall in those categories are infidels and all of us are fair game."

"We have heard this story before. We want the America we see in this room tonight. We have come a long way from the time when people in our country thought it was all right to kill the innocent."

Clinton told he was honored to be considered America's "first black president."

"I think it's a function of the work I have done, not just as president, but my whole public life to try to bridge the racial divide and the fact that even when I was a little boy I had friends who were African-American," he explained.

Clinton said that while he misses being president he has "a wonderful life now and I had the time that was allocated to me under the Constitution." He explained, "I have no regrets and I'm trying to go on and play a constructive role as a citizen now and I am quite happy with it."

He added, "I am happy in Harlem and I am honored to be thought of as the first black president."

Actress Vivica A. Fox gushed that President Clinton "spoke so wonderfully and made us African-Americans feel more a part of American society. I miss him so much."

Rep. John Lewis said Clinton "has the rare capacity of connecting with African- Americans. He understands the hopes and dreams and the frustration of African- Americans. We identify with him and he can identify with us."

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) said, "God bless him, he got tonight what he really deserved, which is a thank you."

However Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said she has no idea what people mean when they talk about Clinton being "the first black president. "I don't know what that means. I don't know what that means," she commented as she walked away.

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