- Democratic Member of Congress
- Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus
See also: Congressional
Black Caucus Congressional
Lacy Clay was born in St. Louis, Missouri in July
1956 and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. His father is the
veteran politician Bill Clay (born 1931), who served as Missouri's
First-District congressman from 1969-2001.
While working as a staffer in the House of Representatives, William Lacy Clay attended night classes and earned a bachelor’s
degree in political science from the University of Maryland in
1983. That same year he returned to St. Louis, where Democratic
bosses backed his successful
run for a suddenly vacant seat in the state legislature. Seven years later Clay was elected to the Missouri state senate and served there from
In 2000, Clay's father retired from the House
of Representatives and left his political machine and most of
his contributors – including more than 30 influential union locals
– to his son. As a result, William Lacy Clay captured 61 percent of the vote in a
six-candidate Democratic primary, then
won the general election for the First-District seat in November. One
of his campaign advisers was the
Communist Party USA affiliate Lew Moye.
In the House of
Representatives, Clay became a member of both the Congressional
and the Congressional
In his numerous political campaigns since 2000, Clay has continued to
receive strong financial support from the members and political action committees of
large and powerful labor
unions like AFSCME, the National Education
Association, the American
Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, and the Service Employees
a 19-day sit-in by the Washington University (St. Louis) Student Worker Alliance, which demanded
that the school's contract employees (who earned $7.50 per hour) be paid a living wage. The effort ultimately proved to be successful when
campus officials agreed to commit at least $1 million over the ensuing
two years toward higher salaries and better benefits for the workers.
Later in 2005, Clay became a member of the Out of
Iraq Congressional Caucus.
Clay was one of 27
Members of Congress to co-sponsor H.
Res. 333, which Rep. Dennis
on April 24, 2007. This bill set forth articles of
Cheney, for having “purposely manipulated the intelligence process”
to “deceive” U.S. citizens and Congress alike “about a threat
of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and about an alleged
relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, to justify the use of the
U.S. Armed Forces against Iraq in a manner damaging to U.S. national
In early 2007, Clay
made headlines when he strongly objected to an attempt by U.S. Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee, a
Caucasian Democrat who represented a majority-black district in
Memphis, to become the first white member of
the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). "He's
white and the Caucus is black," Clay told reporters. "It's time to move on. We [the CBC] have racial
policies to pursue and we are pursuing them, as Mr. Cohen has
learned. It's an unwritten rule. It's understood." In reply to Cohen's subsequent complaint about having been denied admittance to the CBC, Clay issued this official
simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country
will have to accept — there has been an unofficial Congressional
White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it's our turn to say who can
join 'the club.' He does not, and cannot, meet the membership
criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are
concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we
will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives."
Throughout his career in Congress, Clay's
voting record has consistently been
85 to 100
on the left side of legislation, according to Americans for Democratic Action.
here for an overview of his votes on numerous key bills.
Clay has long viewed black conservatives as race traitors, smearing them as "Negro wanderers" whose goal is to "maim and
kill other blacks for the gratification and entertainment of
ultraconservative white racists." In the 1990s, Clay described black conservative Gary
Franks—when the latter was a Connecticut congressman—as a "Negro Dr.
Kevorkian who gleefully assists in suicidal conduct to destroy his own
race," and who exhibits a "'foot-shuffling, head-scratching 'Amos and
Andy' brand of 'Uncle Tom-ism.'"