Take Five: Rep. John Conyers

Conyers (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo).
Conyers (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo).
Posted January 13, 2016 at 5:00am

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, the Dean of the House, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who has been attending States of the Union since being elected in 1964, talks about hearing Lyndon B. Johnson speak, Detroit and his long tenure in public office. Q : Which president do you think gave the best State of the Union speeches?  

A : In my first term as a member of Congress, I had the honor of hearing President Lyndon B. Johnson deliver the 1965 State of the Union Address, in which he described his domestic agenda and vision for a “greater society.”  The Democratic Party was in the majority at the time and the address was his blueprint for a more progressive America that included topics we still debate in Congress today — such as earning a livable wage, access to affordable health care and federal support for education. Most notably, President Johnson’s address expressly focused on the need to enact a law to prohibit racial discrimination in voting and protect the voting rights of African-Americans. The president’s call for this legislation would later be introduced as the Voting Right Act of 1965, the first major piece of legislation I voted on. Restoring the VRA remains a pivotal focus of my legislative priorities, especially after the Supreme Court gutted critical sections of the bill in 2013.  

Q . When it comes to Michigan cars, are you more of a Ford man or a Jeep man?  

A : I am a Ford and General Motors man.  

Q : What is the best quality of the city of Detroit?  

A : Detroit is the epicenter of organized labor, the birthplace of Motown music and where Rosa Parks, a civil rights hero, eventually called home. When you have a truly American city that is full of hardworking and good people, great food, striking architecture and immense hope toward the future — it is hard to narrow down what is the “best” quality of the Motor City.  

Q : If someone was traveling to Detroit and wanted a food recommendation, where would you send them?  

A : Be sure to grab a bite to eat at Eastern Market. One of the largest farmers’ markets in the country, you can pick up a variety fresh and specialty foods raised by local farmers at affordable prices.  

Q : What do you like to read?  

A : Both The New Yorker and The Nation.


See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.