In 1989 the McKinneys became the first simultaneous father-daughter Georgia reps, and Cynthia went on to become the state’s first African American U.S. congresswoman. Both politicians proved fiery advocates for the poor and disenfranchised. Billy was one of Atlanta’s first black police officers—which didn’t stop him from forming a one-man picket line to demand the city hire more. A firm believer in equal-opportunity offensives, Billy cochaired Sidney Marcus’s (unsuccessful) mayoral campaign against Andy Young in 1981. Cynthia, who literally learned the ropes of civil action upon her father’s shoulders, served six terms in the U.S. House and was the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2008. She lost credibility over conspiracy theories, such as implying that President Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11 and that, after Katrina, the Department of Defense secretly disposed of 5,000 bodies bearing single gunshots to the head.
Bad Hair Day Cynthia drew publicity in 2006 when she confronted a Capitol Hill guard who didn’t recognize her. Seems she’d just quit wearing her signature braids. Pundits charged that the “washerwoman” hairstyle was a disingenuous attempt to identify with the downtrodden.
Photograph courtesy of The Associated Press