Monday, December 22, 2014

Jenkins vote may contradict 'great white hope' claim

By TOMMY FELTS and VICKIE MOSS, Of The Herald Staff | 8/28/2009

The controversy surrounding U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ disclaiming of the phrase “great white hope” came less than a month after she had supported a resolution referencing that same phrase.

Jenkins, R-Kan., said Thursday she didn’t know “great white hope” had a negative connotation when she recently used the phrase to describe Republicans’ search for a new leader.

The controversy surrounding U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ disclaiming of the phrase “great white hope” came less than a month after she had supported a resolution referencing that same phrase.

Jenkins, R-Kan., said Thursday she didn’t know “great white hope” had a negative connotation when she recently used the phrase to describe Republicans’ search for a new leader.

However, the freshman lawmaker supported a resolution that included that exact phrase last month when the House approved by unanimous consent a measure urging President Obama to pardon black U.S. boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson, who died in 1946, was the target of an early 1900s racist plot and convicted in 1913 of transporting a white woman across state lines for immoral reasons.

Within the resolution passed by the House July 29 was a passage that read, “Whereas the victory by Jack Johnson over Tommy Burns prompted a search for a White boxer who could beat Jack Johnson, a recruitment effort that was dubbed the search for the ‘great white hope.’”

Jenkins, in Ottawa Thursday for a town hall forum on health care, told reporters she was unaware of this history after critics accused her of using racially-charged language to rally support against Obama.

But Mary Geiger, Jenkins’ press secretary, told The Herald today the Kansas lawmaker supported the resolution to pardon Johnson.

The measure  was passed by a voice vote, and congressional records do not indicate how or whether Jenkins cast her vote because it was not a roll call vote. However, records show the Kansas lawmaker was present for and voted on seven of seven other measures that day.

Get more on the story in Saturday's Herald.

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