Denied black relative urges McCain to accept ancestry
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday October 20, 2008

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The McCain family has a proud tradition in the United States. They fought for integration of the south, resisted the Ku Klux Klan, led civil rights campaigns and left a lasting mark on the politics of Mississippi.

But, despite contradictory statements made by Sen. John McCain, that branch of his family was once owned as slaves by the candidate's ancestors

On Monday morning's CNN Newsroom, reporter Kyra Phillips talked with Wall Street Journal's Atlanta Bureau Chief Douglas Blackmon and Lillie McCain, a black relative of John McCain.

"We've had the pleasure of meeting Joe McCain," explained Lillie. "He attends the reunions at Teoc [Mississippi] ... I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Senator McCain."

"Do you think it could make a difference with regard to diversity issues, issues of race, if John McCain did participate [in the reunions]?" asked Phillips.

"I think it probably could," said Ms. McCain. "It would give him an opportunity to know us. I e-mailed him back in 2000 to remind him of his ties to Teoc, Mississippi.

"I heard him say on, I believe it was Meet the Press, that his ancestors owned no slaves. Well, I certainly have carried the name McCain from the beginning of my life, and I've known the ties to John McCain, and have tried to get him to communicate with me about that, but he has been unwilling at least to date."

"The McCain campaign told me, when I talked to them about this, that he hasn't been to any of the family reunions simply because of scheduling conflicts," said Blackmon. "There's not a decision not to do that."

Lillie McCain urged John McCain to "acknowledge the reality of the relationship that we hold."

"Why he hasnít come [to the reunions] is anybodyís guess," said Charles McCain Jr., 60, a distant cousin of John McCain, in a report published in the South Florida Times. "I think the best I can come up with, is that he doesnít have time, or he has just distanced himself, or it doesnít mean that much to him."

"I am absolutely supporting Obama, and itís not because heís black," said Lillie. "Itís because he is the best person at this time in our history."

This video is from CNN's Newsroom, broadcast October 20, 2008.

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