Archive for January, 2008

“ISLE RIDE ROLLS ON ST.HELENA ISLAND,SOUTH CAROLINA FOR OBAMA”,CHICAGO TRIBUNE,JAN. 27,2008

January 30, 2008

from tribune.com

LETTER FROM ST. HELENA ISLAND

Isle tide rolls for Obama
On this culturally distinctive South Carolina outpost long run by blacks, the rhetorical question is, ‘Why not?’
By Jason George | Tribune reporter
9:23 AM CST, January 27, 2008

ST. HELENA ISLAND, S.C. — Here at America’s eastern edge, on a 63-square-mile speck off the Carolina coast, black residents never experienced as much racism as counterparts on the mainland for a simple reason: For nearly 150 years, African-Americans have run St. Helena as the majority, overseeing the fields of indigo, rice and cotton while developing the island’s distinctive culture.

So although older African-Americans who lived through civil rights struggles in the rest of the country haven’t coalesced around the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama—fearing the U.S. isn’t ready for a black president—don’t tell that to the residents of St. Helena.

“Of course a colored man can be president,” said Matilda Middleton, a 100-year-old islander who grew up on a black-owned plantation.
“Why not?”

This relatively colorblind belief brought Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to this remote outpost for their planning sessions in the 1960s. When Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation kept the biracial coalition from setting up camp across much of the South, St. Helena’s Penn Center became their retreat. It was here, on a road that now bears King’s name, that King planned his 1963 March on Washington.

The Penn Center began as the Penn School in 1862, when Northern Quakers came to the island to educate newly freed slaves, an unheard-of proposition at the time in these parts. The school closed after World War II, and one of its last students was Robert Middleton, now 78, who volunteers at the center. Middleton (no relation to Matilda) said there was racism on the island back then—still is—but the rarity of whites there forced everyone to grow up pretty much side by side.

“That’s why we didn’t have any problems integrating here in the island,” he said.

‘Ready for a change’
Middleton added that he and most people he knows are supporting Obama.

“I think we’re ready for a change,” he said. “I think he’s got enough experience.”

On Middleton’s truck is a bumper sticker that proclaims “I Be Gullah,” a reference to the Gullah-Geechee culture, which is found on the Sea Islands and in South Carolina’s Low Country and which incorporates African influences into cooking and conversation. The voices you hear on St. Helena sound much like the English spoken in the Caribbean.

That Gullah dialect—so different from standard English that there are a Gullah Bible and dictionaries—is something mainlanders once used against islanders, said Victoria Smalls, 37, of St. Helena.

“Whenever we would go to Bay Street [in nearby Beaufort], as soon as I would open my mouth they would start laughing,” she said.

The word “Gullah” still can carry a negative cast.

“It’s always been a taboo sort of thing that’s resulted in discrimination” off the island, said Walter Mack, director of the Penn Center’s program for academic and cultural enrichment.

Paul Chisolm, who grew up on the island and appears Gullah by every measure, said he never would use the term to define himself.

“To me it means bad-talking people,” said the 69-year-old landscaper.

Other Sea Islands, which stretch from South Carolina through Georgia to Florida, have lost much of that Gullah culture due to gated developments pushing out island natives. Nearby Hilton Head, once almost entirely black, is no longer so. St. Helena is perhaps one of the least developed of the South Carolina Sea Islands, although that is changing, despite Gullah resistance. Of the island’s 13,200 people, about 2,500 live in exclusive, and almost exclusively white, oceanfront communities, according to county records.

Embracing the old ways
Today, Gullah residents do their part to hold on to the old way of life. Robert Middleton maintains one of the island’s shuttered plantation prayer houses, where shouts to heaven once could be heard for miles around. Many folks still fish in the streams and surf, crabbing for local markets.

Smalls works at a St. Helena art gallery, specializing in pieces by local African-American artists. She, like everyone else interviewed on the island who indicated a preference, said her vote was for Obama in the state’s Democratic primary.

“As a native, and someone who is proud of our strong cultural heritage here, I think it’s beautiful to have such diversity in this race,” she said. “We can hold our heads high.”

Tribune correspondent Jason George was on assignment recently in South Carolina.

jageorge@tribune.com

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“BARACK OBAMA TAKES SOUTH CAROLINA IN LANDSIDE” AT GREENVILLEONLINE.COM

January 30, 2008

from greenvilleonline.com

Barack Obama takes South Carolina in landslide

Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008 – 6:41 pm
Updated: Saturday, January 26, 2008 – 11:09 pm

By Dan Hoover
STAFF WRITER
dchoover@greenvillenews.com

Barack Obama crushed Hillary Clinton to win Saturday’s South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, gaining a needed and historic boost heading into the Feb. 5 round of 22 big-state and Southern contests.

Clinton was a distant second and Seneca native John Edwards, winner of South Carolina’s 2004 primary, finished well behind her.

And in a potential harbinger of change in a South Carolina that has been dominated by the Republican Party, Saturday’s Democratic turnout far surpassed last week’s Republican totals. More than 532,000 South Carolinians voted in the Democratic contest, compared to 445,677 in the GOP primary.

Obama was expected to do exceptionally well among the state’s black voters. He did that and more, winning predominantly white and black precincts across the state. He carried every South Carolina county but two Horry, which went for Clinton, and Oconee, which Edwards won.

The Illinois senator captured more than 55 percent of the vote, at 295,091 votes, compared to Clinton’s 27 percent or 141,128 votes. Edwards had 18 percent of the vote, or 93,552 votes. Obama carried Greenville County, taking 50 percent of the 42,945 votes. Clinton had 28 percent, Edwards, 21 percent.

Obama told the thousands at his victory rally, Tonight the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.

His campaign has not only the most votes but also the most diverse coalition of Americans that we’ve seen in a long, long time, he said.

At his victory celebration, Obama said he didn’t see a black South Carolina or a white South Carolina. I saw South Carolina.

Along the way, there were crumbling schools? and shuttered mills and homes, hurting blacks and whites alike, he said.

A first-round knockout, an exultant former Gov. Jim Hodges said at the Obama victory party. Around him, the crowd tossed beach balls back and forth in a festival-like atmosphere.

This is a complete rout by Obama, and it will give him a giant boost into Feb. 5,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Clinton is still the favorite in most Feb. 5 states, but Obama is back. The Iowa magic has returned.

Heavy turnout in black precincts went Obama’s way, sealing Clinton’s fate.

Exit polling indicated that half of the voters were black, with heavy voting by black women, and Obama won 80 percent of them, The Associated Press reported. Clinton and Edwards each took 40 percent of the white vote, according to The AP.

Obama won 83 percent of the votes in Greenville 14 at the Phillis Wheatley Center where Bill Clinton had campaigned for his wife earlier in the day. The precinct has the highest percentage of nonwhite voters in Greenville County, 97 percent.

Belle Meade precinct, 90 percent nonwhite, went 82 percent for Obama, and Greenville 7 at West Greenville Recreation Center, 75 percent nonwhite, gave 77 percent to him.

He won in some predominantly white precincts, carrying Greenville 16 at Augusta Road Baptist Church, Greenville 17 at St. Matthews United Methodist Church, Greenville 25 at McCarter Presbyterian Church and Botany Woods at Lutheran Church of Our Saviour.

Voting at the old Southside High School precinct, which is 36 percent nonwhite, went 68 percent for Obama.

Marcus McCullough said he voted for Obama because I just want to see a fresh face.

The 32-year-old UPS driver said Clinton has been in the loop for a while, and I don?t think Edwards has got enough to pull it through.

Clinton and her former president-husband had doubled-teamed Obama throughout a contentious week as racially tinged charges flew back and forth.

State Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, said he believes the Clintons lost respect in this race. We killed her, Rutherford said. They lost big. This is unbelievable.

The third-place finish for Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who played heavily on his South Carolina roots, could leave his political future in doubt despite his vow to fight on.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia, the House Democratic whip and South Carolina’s most powerful black political figure, said when the outcome was called, We can now get this whole issue of racial differences behind us? and move on to the visions of the candidates. Let’s talk about the issues.

David Axelrod, Obama’s top political strategist, said the victory gives the Illinois senator great momentum going into Super Tuesday.

This was a great repudiation of the politics of divisiveness and an affirmation of the politics of unity,said Axelrod at Obama’s victory rally in Charleston.

Obama supporters packed the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, and thousands more waited in line outside, chanting, ?Fired up and ready to go!

By contrast, the 100-plus Clinton supporters gathered at the Element, a downtown Columbia nightclub, appeared stunned when the Obama projection was announced on television.

Sen. Obama ran a good campaign,? said Don Fowler, former national party chairman under Bill Clinton and a Hillary Clinton supporter. ?(Obama) was more persuasive. We’re going to be more persuasive in the 20 states on the 5th.?

Clinton issued a statement at 8 p.m., saying she had called Obama to wish him well and offering thanks to South Carolinians who supported her.

?We now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who will make their voices heard in Florida and the 22 states as well as American Samoa who will vote on Feb. 5. In the days ahead, I?ll work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard. For those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That’s what this election is about. It’s about our country, our hopes and dreams. Our families and our future.?

It was Obama’s second victory. He won the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3. Clinton upset him in New Hampshire on Jan. 8, defying polls that gave Obama a double-digit edge. They split Nevada’s caucuses Jan. 19, with Clinton winning the turnout and Obama gaining a one-delegate edge.

Tim Smith of the Columbia bureau, and Staff Writers Anna Simon and E. Richard Walton and Gannett News Service contributed to this report.

Dan Hoover covers politics and can be reached at 298-4883.

Post a Comment View All Comments
Ricardo man you are so full of yourself and can’t seem to know when to shut up!

The Clintons didn’t just lose, they were annihilated and like you they do not know when to shut up or show magnanimity in defeat. What you’re saying is that because the Republicans would attack Barack his supporters should have voted for Hillary? You cannot be that smart!

Guess what Ted Kennedy and Caroline who are close friends of the Clintons are endorsing Barack Obama. By your reckoning, they must be racists right?

If you have no intelligent contribution to make, then please spare us your garbage! Enuff already!

Ricardo Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:17 am

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unreconstructed “It also showed this country something else. This state is not 55% black so apparently we arn’t as racist as we are portrayed when we elect a black man to be the democratic nominee for President.”

Exactly correct. I am glad to see one more of those ridiculous stereotypes demolished!

But South Carolina is not “biracial”. South Carolina is MULTI-racial. And I would like to know when we will get an opportunity to elect a Native American as a nominee for national office!

unreconstructed Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:13 am

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rid0617 It appears that the attempt to steer white voters from Obama didn’t work. As CNN put it “more whites voted for Obama than blacks voted for Hillary”. I am an independent but was very impressed and voted for Ron Paul. Since it seriously looks like he won’t make it there is nothing else on the Republican side I would give the time of day. Therefore I too am an independent that would vote for Obama. I keep hearing the word change and the only way I can see that change is by someone other than a Bush or Clinton being in the office. People appear fed up with the politics as usual because the more negative the campaign gets the popularity of Obama increases. I too am tired of the divide and conquer mentality. It’s time for someone who actually is a uniter.

It also showed this country something else. This state is not 55% black so apparently we aren’t as racist as we are portrayed when we elect a black man to be the democratic nominee for President.

rid0617 Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:27 am

Ricardo Well done SC! The World can hear your voice very loud and clear!

Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of JFK endorses Barack Obama.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/opinion/27kennedy.html

Ricardo Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:16 pm

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YO! I normally vote republican but deep down I’m an ABC voter – Anybody But Clinton. The butt whipping Obama gave Hillary is the best news I’ve heard in years.

For jleemo: I have seen nothing on this board that was regurgitated from “Fox”, but I clearly remember Bill Clinton sticking his finger in my face on national TV and stating “I did not have sex with that woman” which was an outright lie, and Hillary sticking up for her “man”. These two are some of the most vile and disgusting humans on the planet. A sound defeat like this brings tears of joy to my face!

YO! Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:49 pm

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beaufort-tiger Here’s how I forsee it:

McCain will win the Republican nomination, much to the dismay of many Republicans and die-hard neo-cons (inspite of the fact that McCain supports the war). Romney (ever the opportunist) will continue campaigning either to disrupt McCain or as an independent candidate with his vast fortune. This disruption will focus the Right-wing machine (as jleemo puts it) onto itself.

Independents, several Republicans (Ron Paul refugees), and others will drift over gradually to the Obama campaign, which I predict will win the nomination. There will of course be calls for Hillary to go third party, but she won’t.

Then of course, there’s Bloomberg.

In the end, if the momentum keeps up, I see a sizable win for Obama over McCain and third-party candidate Romney (or Bloomberg).

beaufort-tiger Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:44 pm

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“EXCITEMENT FOR OBAMACANDIDACY PALPABLE AMONG MANY BLACK RESIDENTS” ON GLOBE.COM

January 30, 2008

from globe.com

Excitement for Obama candidacy palpable among many black residents
Email|Print| Text size – + By Lisa Wangsness
Globe Staff / January 27, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. – When Mae Golston voted for Barack Obama yesterday, she was thinking about her father. A sharecropper with a sixth-grade education, he was not allowed to finish his schooling because he had to work.

More political coverage:
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Massachusetts Democrats have rarely been so divided over a presidential race
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Jeff Jacoby The dominant Clinton
More campaign coverage
more stories like this”He would have loved this,” she said, as her 5-year-old daughter, S’honna, skipped and scampered about W.A. Perry Middle School in downtown Columbia. “He would have loved this.”

Polling places saw heavy turnout yesterday in South Carolina, the first Southern state on this year’s Democratic nominating calendar and the first with a heavily African-American electorate. A win for Obama, the first viable African-American presidential candidate in history, could bode well for him in other states with sizable black populations.

In the state that was first to secede from the Union before the Civil War and that still flies the Confederate flag in front of its State House, excitement about Obama among African-American voters was palpable.

Cynthia Cook, 58, a retired nurse, was beaming as she left an adult education center in downtown Columbia after casting her vote for Obama. “I lived through the civil rights era, and he is a dream come true,” she said.

Andre Young, a 36-year-old chef from Columbia, started out a Clinton supporter, but after he saw Obama speak at a massive rally with Oprah Winfrey in December, he changed his mind.

“It was exciting to see both of them in the same place, and the African-American community all unified, without some foolishness or violence, for something positive,” said Young.

Not all black voters who backed Obama, however, said their decision was based on race. Lonnie Dickerson, a 48-year-old truck driver from Columbia, said he would be happy with Obama or Clinton, but he went with Obama because he decided the Illinois senator had been the clearest and most consistent advocate for sweeping changes in Washington.

“I just liked his message,” he said. “This country really cries out for real change.”

For many voters – particularly women, who had the chance to nominate a viable female candidate for the first time – yesterday’s choice was a wrenching one. Barbara Pate, a 61-year-old dental office manager who is white, was so torn that that before she entered her polling place, she sat in her car and prayed for guidance.

Both candidates, she said, had the leadership qualities, empathy for working-class people, and a deep understanding of the issues. But when she walked into the voting booth, she decided to go with Clinton.

“I would vote for Obama in a few years, when he gets a little more experience,” she said. “The experience was the whole thing in a nutshell.”

Rachael Holland, a 38-year-old middle school teacher from Irmo, said she was torn between Clinton and Obama, but wound up siding with Obama because the Clinton campaign had spent too much time attacking Obama and because President Bill Clinton appeared to have had such a strong influence on his wife’s campaign.

“If he says something, everyone’s paying attention to what he says,” she said. “I think that takes a lot away from her. People can’t see her as an independent person.”

Janice Lee, 46, a Democrat from Irmo, said that for her as an African-American woman, it was “an amazing thing” to have the choice of voting for a woman or a black man. Lee, who recently lost her customer service job and her health insurance along with it, decided to go with Clinton, saying the New York senator offered the most concrete plans for healthcare and strengthening the economy.

Shirley Daniels, 72, a registered independent who is a full-time caregiver for her son, who has muscular dystrophy, voted for John Edwards, in large part because she trusts him to be a good steward of the Medicaid and Medicare programs her son depends on to survive.

“I feel he is more for the middle class-to-poor people,” she said.

Lisa Wangsness can be reached at lwangsness@globe.com.

“A VOTE FOR OBAMA,AND FOR SOMETHING LARGER” AT LATIMES.COM

January 29, 2008

FROM latimes.com

A vote for Obama, and for something larger

Blacks in Orangeburg, S.C., the site of a notorious civil-rights protest, hope their ballots are a new page in history.
By James Rainey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 27, 2008
ORANGEBURG, S.C. — People around this small Southern town say they know too well that it’s dangerous to guess at history before it’s happened — to hope that times have changed.

But after voting for Barack Obama on a chilly winter Saturday, in a town with a history of racial unrest, many African Americans couldn’t help but let themselves feel that they were taking part in something larger.

Barack Obama Holds South Carolina Primary Rally
click to enlarge

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They saw their votes as helping to push a black man to victory in the South Carolina presidential primary — one that felt much bigger than Jesse Jackson’s win in the Democratic primary here 20 years ago.

On Saturday, African American schoolteachers talked about how an Obama in the White House would motivate students who complain that the deck is stacked against them. Parents hoped it would help them keep distracted sons on the straight and narrow. One woman felt it might even push those Confederate flags into the shadows.

Earthalee Brown, 85, cast her ballot around noon in the gymnasium at South Carolina State University, then allowed herself to imagine what it would be like to see Obama taking the oath of office next January in front of the Capitol dome.

“It’s going to feel like God is still on the throne,” said Brown, who grew up in segregated Orangeburg County. As she said it, Brown turned her palms skyward and laughed from deep inside.

Travis Chandler, a senior at the historically black university, was the 15th consecutive person to leave the polls around midday reporting a vote for Obama. “I never thought an African American would have a chance to win an election on this level,” Chandler said. “I think history could be made. And I want to do my part.”

The ward where Chandler and the rest voted for Obama would end up going nearly 6-to-1 for the Illinois senator over his prime challenger, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. Citywide, late results showed Obama capturing 68% of the 8,735 votes cast.

The chance at progress resonated deeply here, in part because of Orangeburg’s past. On Feb. 8, it will be 40 years since three black college students were killed by state troopers (27 more were wounded) as they protested segregation at a whites-only bowling alley.

It took a couple of dogged newspapermen to prove that the protesters had not, as the troopers had claimed, provoked the shooting and that many of the protesters had taken shotgun blasts in the back.

Only 15 years ago, South Carolina elected its first black congressman in nearly 100 years, Democrat James E. Clyburn. He had emerged as an African American leader during a sit-in at the segregated counter of the Orangeburg Rexall Drug Store.

That history could not be ignored Saturday at the university gymnasium, named for the three teenagers who died that day in 1968 in what has come to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre. Black-and-white photos of Henry R. Smith, Samuel Hammond Jr. and Delano B. Middleton hung directly over five blue electronic voting booths.

Willie Utsey, 60, grew up in the area and knew some of those who were shot. “It was hard. It was very hard,” said Utsey.

The semiretired truck driver and other Obama voters took pains to explain that their candidate was more than simply their color. They cited his election to the Senate, his intelligence and his reputation for being able to strike compromises with those who hold different views.

“You don’t get in because of the color of your skin. It’s the person that you are,” said George Favors, after casting his Obama ballot. “That’s what Martin Luther King said.”

Most of the Obama voters expressed no animosity for Clinton. “If she can win, that would be big too,” said Chandler.

But others said they had been distressed in recent days by comments from Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. They felt she had downplayed King’s role in advancing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when Clinton emphasized President Lyndon B. Johnson’s role in winning passage of the law.

They didn’t appreciate her husband telling an interviewer that electing the relatively inexperienced Obama would amount to “a roll of the dice.”

Many of the Obama voters said their high hopes were tempered by the reality around them.

Orangeburg, a community of about 14,000, remains stratified. It has neighborhoods of stately homes and broad lawns not far from ramshackle trailers and open trenches that carry sewage along the streets.

A University of South Carolina political scientist not long ago concluded that blacks were three times as likely as whites to live in poverty in the state. African Americans suffer higher rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

“We have a long ways to go,” said the truck driver, Utsey. “But we are getting there, slowly.”

Leaping aspirations came with another difficult corollary for a few voters. They thought of heroes like King and Robert F. Kennedy who were assassinated in their prime.

“You worry that [Obama] does well, you put him in there, and then something happens,” said Eva, a 50-year-old high-school teacher, who did not want to give her last name. She did not have to say what she was talking about.

Still, Eva agreed with another high school teacher and Obama voter: They see a role model, especially for young men who they worry are too smitten with rappers and rock stars.

“I hear from them, ‘It doesn’t matter what you do,’ ” said teacher Lakia Mustipher, 23. “But if Obama wins, it would be no more excuses. I can say to them, ‘He is making a change. . . . You can do it, too.’ ”

james.rainey@latimes.com

Discussion

Share your thoughts on the 2008 Campaign and predictions for the upcoming primaries.

1. Los Angeles, this is your moment. You get to pick the nominee for the Democratic Party on the 5th of Feb. We have already had the Clintons for 8 years so know what they are going to be like. They are going to be same as usual, just interested in their own power base and prosperity. The only difference this time around is that they are older and crankier. My god, aren’t you just tired of this ?
Submitted by: Sunny
3:28 AM PST, Jan 29, 2008

2. It’s time for a real change. The Clinton’s (Bill and Hilary) and the Bush family have had their chance. We need change for the sake of the country and America’s reputation. Obama is an opportunity for that real change to unite us all.
Submitted by: Michael
2:53 AM PST, Jan 29, 2008

A SISTER TELLS US HOW TO GET OBAMA IN! FROM SLATE.COM

January 29, 2008

FROM slate.com

Rally for Him Now!
How black America can revive Obama’s campaign.
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008, at 1:09 PM ET
So much for the post-race horse race. The exit polls in New Hampshire were accurate for the Republicans and for the second-tier Democrats. The only miscalculation was the amount of support for Obama. That miscalculation is about race. Iowa caucus-goers stood by Barack, in part, because when voting with their bodies, in front of their neighbors, Iowans are held accountable. In the quiet, solitary space of the voting booth, some New Hampshire voters abandoned Barack.

The reasons are not simple. Some media believe that women voters want a woman president. But there is not a substantial gender gap in American politics. Historically, white women voters are as likely to be Democrats as Republicans; as likely to vote for male candidates as for female; and as likely to describe themselves as conservative or liberal. It is not as simple as gender solidarity. Some observers will argue that naked racism explains Tuesday’s result. But that argument ignores the thousands of white women and men who built Obama’s local organization in New Hampshire and worked tirelessly on his behalf for months.

The New Hampshire results are a reminder of why Obama’s strategy is so new and difficult. He is asking voters to believe that although he has a “funny” name and does not look like them, he is nonetheless like them. He is asking voters to peer through the veil of America’s racial history and actually see him. It is a hard thing to do. When Hillary Clinton’s eyes welled up with the strain of the campaign, she evoked immediate recognition from many white women of her generation. “Oh, yes,” they thought, “I remember feeling like that.” Former President Bill Clinton rallied angrily for his wife, as he claimed that the media were picking on her while being soft on Obama. This is a familiar American narrative of race and gender, and it resonated with thousands of New Hampshire voters. Clinton cried about being attacked in the debates, but there are no public tears shed for the strain Obama must feel as a result of death threats, which caused the doubling of his Secret Service detail.

I am mad about it. I am mad because on the night that Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, I was in a crummy hotel room in Manchester, N.H. I was there with two dozen college students who came to work the primaries and see American democracy in action. Many of them were propelled to their first political action as a result of Obama’s campaign. I also brought my 5-year-old daughter, Parker, because I wanted her to take part in this historic election. When the Obama family took the stage in Iowa to perform the traditional presidential wave, I could not resist waking Parker from her sleep so that she could watch Barack, Michelle, and their daughters. “Look at the beautiful black girls who might get to live in the White House,” I told her as I held her sleepy head in my hands. Whatever authenticity anxieties the American media conjured last year, Barack’s Iowa triumph was unreservedly a moment of racial pride. Parker spent the rest of the week proudly carrying an Obama rally sign all over New Hampshire. Last night, I had to explain Obama’s loss. She wanted to know if his daughters were as sad as she was.

I know that many black Americans are discouraged and worry that New Hampshire’s results mean that America is not ready for a black president. What I know for sure is that if black Americans are going to be relevant to American elections, they must rally behind Obama now. Most white voters who indicated an Obama preference in New Hampshire were sincere and enduring in their support. Obama is the most viable black candidate in American history. Tens of thousands of white voters are in the Obama coalition for the long haul. Black Americans can now demonstrate their electoral power by making this a winning coalition. Starting with South Carolina, black America will have a chance to throw its full enthusiastic weight behind Obama.

In 2003, I was living in Chicago and watched Obama secure the Democratic nomination in the Illinois Senate race. The powerful Daley machine and its black allies in pulpits and municipal offices throughout the city encouraged African-Americans to reject Barack and support the machine candidates. But black voters repudiated these old tactics and joined Obama’s multiracial, intergenerational coalition in record numbers. They handed him the Democratic nomination, elected him to the U.S. Senate, and generated the momentum that initially propelled him to national prominence, thereby making his presidential bid possible. In this way, Obama’s campaign is already the result of black voters who chose him in the face of impossible odds and entrenched power.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.

COMMENTS

Barack Obama
by Benita
01/21/2008, 4:07 PM #
Reply
I am a mother. I am raising two beautiful black children. I look at Barack as a symbol of hope and possibility for my babies and me. He is our best chance for creating a better world for all children in our nation, and I love my country enough to ensure that its leadership reflects our best thinking and creativity.

Benita Miller, Esq.

Why I Support Obama
by JTR
01/12/2008, 3:00 PM #
Reply
I thank the Professor for her passionate and sophisticated assessment of the Obama coalition. I was also mad about the NH result; whether the polling inaccuracies were the result of private racial misgivings or Senator Clinton’s tearful display of sincereity (feigned or not), I don’t know. Neither explanation is reassuring about the ability of voters to chose wisely. As a caucasian, even Anglo-saxon American, I enthusiastically support Obama for what I perceive as his wisdom, intelligence, judicious temperment, and motivation to bring America closer to the enlightented ideas at its moral core and foundation, all of which have suffered, shamefully, under previous political coalitions. While Sen. Clinton’s candidacy would pour salt in our political fractures, I think Obama is the only politician who can heal this country’s wounds, racial and otherwise, and thereby elevate it.

-Jonathan, Princeton NJ

The choice for the Democratic Presidential nomination is simple: the Democrats can choose yesterday (Hillary Clinton) or tomorrow (Barack Obama).

P.S. I’m a white, 74-year-old registered Democrat.

A SISTER TELLS US HOW TO GET OBAMA IN! FROM SLATE.COM

January 29, 2008

FROM slate.com

Rally for Him Now!
How black America can revive Obama’s campaign.
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008, at 1:09 PM ET
So much for the post-race horse race. The exit polls in New Hampshire were accurate for the Republicans and for the second-tier Democrats. The only miscalculation was the amount of support for Obama. That miscalculation is about race. Iowa caucus-goers stood by Barack, in part, because when voting with their bodies, in front of their neighbors, Iowans are held accountable. In the quiet, solitary space of the voting booth, some New Hampshire voters abandoned Barack.

The reasons are not simple. Some media believe that women voters want a woman president. But there is not a substantial gender gap in American politics. Historically, white women voters are as likely to be Democrats as Republicans; as likely to vote for male candidates as for female; and as likely to describe themselves as conservative or liberal. It is not as simple as gender solidarity. Some observers will argue that naked racism explains Tuesday’s result. But that argument ignores the thousands of white women and men who built Obama’s local organization in New Hampshire and worked tirelessly on his behalf for months.

The New Hampshire results are a reminder of why Obama’s strategy is so new and difficult. He is asking voters to believe that although he has a “funny” name and does not look like them, he is nonetheless like them. He is asking voters to peer through the veil of America’s racial history and actually see him. It is a hard thing to do. When Hillary Clinton’s eyes welled up with the strain of the campaign, she evoked immediate recognition from many white women of her generation. “Oh, yes,” they thought, “I remember feeling like that.” Former President Bill Clinton rallied angrily for his wife, as he claimed that the media were picking on her while being soft on Obama. This is a familiar American narrative of race and gender, and it resonated with thousands of New Hampshire voters. Clinton cried about being attacked in the debates, but there are no public tears shed for the strain Obama must feel as a result of death threats, which caused the doubling of his Secret Service detail.

I am mad about it. I am mad because on the night that Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, I was in a crummy hotel room in Manchester, N.H. I was there with two dozen college students who came to work the primaries and see American democracy in action. Many of them were propelled to their first political action as a result of Obama’s campaign. I also brought my 5-year-old daughter, Parker, because I wanted her to take part in this historic election. When the Obama family took the stage in Iowa to perform the traditional presidential wave, I could not resist waking Parker from her sleep so that she could watch Barack, Michelle, and their daughters. “Look at the beautiful black girls who might get to live in the White House,” I told her as I held her sleepy head in my hands. Whatever authenticity anxieties the American media conjured last year, Barack’s Iowa triumph was unreservedly a moment of racial pride. Parker spent the rest of the week proudly carrying an Obama rally sign all over New Hampshire. Last night, I had to explain Obama’s loss. She wanted to know if his daughters were as sad as she was.

I know that many black Americans are discouraged and worry that New Hampshire’s results mean that America is not ready for a black president. What I know for sure is that if black Americans are going to be relevant to American elections, they must rally behind Obama now. Most white voters who indicated an Obama preference in New Hampshire were sincere and enduring in their support. Obama is the most viable black candidate in American history. Tens of thousands of white voters are in the Obama coalition for the long haul. Black Americans can now demonstrate their electoral power by making this a winning coalition. Starting with South Carolina, black America will have a chance to throw its full enthusiastic weight behind Obama.

In 2003, I was living in Chicago and watched Obama secure the Democratic nomination in the Illinois Senate race. The powerful Daley machine and its black allies in pulpits and municipal offices throughout the city encouraged African-Americans to reject Barack and support the machine candidates. But black voters repudiated these old tactics and joined Obama’s multiracial, intergenerational coalition in record numbers. They handed him the Democratic nomination, elected him to the U.S. Senate, and generated the momentum that initially propelled him to national prominence, thereby making his presidential bid possible. In this way, Obama’s campaign is already the result of black voters who chose him in the face of impossible odds and entrenched power.

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.

COMMENTS

Barack Obama
by Benita
01/21/2008, 4:07 PM #
Reply
I am a mother. I am raising two beautiful black children. I look at Barack as a symbol of hope and possibility for my babies and me. He is our best chance for creating a better world for all children in our nation, and I love my country enough to ensure that its leadership reflects our best thinking and creativity.

Benita Miller, Esq.

Why I Support Obama
by JTR
01/12/2008, 3:00 PM #
Reply
I thank the Professor for her passionate and sophisticated assessment of the Obama coalition. I was also mad about the NH result; whether the polling inaccuracies were the result of private racial misgivings or Senator Clinton’s tearful display of sincereity (feigned or not), I don’t know. Neither explanation is reassuring about the ability of voters to chose wisely. As a caucasian, even Anglo-saxon American, I enthusiastically support Obama for what I perceive as his wisdom, intelligence, judicious temperment, and motivation to bring America closer to the enlightented ideas at its moral core and foundation, all of which have suffered, shamefully, under previous political coalitions. While Sen. Clinton’s candidacy would pour salt in our political fractures, I think Obama is the only politician who can heal this country’s wounds, racial and otherwise, and thereby elevate it.

-Jonathan, Princeton NJ

The choice for the Democratic Presidential nomination is simple: the Democrats can choose yesterday (Hillary Clinton) or tomorrow (Barack Obama).

P.S. I’m a white, 74-year-old registered Democrat.

BLACK MEN ESPECIALLY REGISTER TO VOTE FOR A BLACK PRESIDENT! FROM TRADITIONOFEXCELLENCE.WORDPRESS.COM

January 29, 2008

from traditionofexcellence.wordpress.com

Georgia minorities registering to vote
Posted by Tanisha on January 27, 2008

Minorities accounted for slightly more than half of the 42,000 Georgians who registered to vote in the week before the deadline for the Feb. 5 presidential primary.For weeks, voter registration officials have reported seeing more people from minority groups walk through their doors, particularly black men. Numbers from the final week of registration bear that out — blacks accounted for 37 percent of voters who signed up Jan. 1-7, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

The increase may have something to do with Sen. Barack Obama but the transformation of the Georgia electorate has been going on for several years. Since 2001, four times as many African-Americans and other minorities have been added to the state’s voter rolls than whites, according to an analysis of state election records.

Since Sept. 1, the number of black men registered to vote has grown by 15,111. More than a third of them signed up in the final week, according to voter registration statistics and state election officials.

Read more at the Atlanta Journal Constitution

This entry was posted on January 27, 2008 at 10:01 am and is filed under Self-Help and Determination. Tagged: 2008 presidential election, african americans, black men, georgia, minorities, voting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Georgia minorities registering to vote”
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:
January 29, 2008 at 7:23 am
Stand up BLACK Men and support a Brother for President! Let a real man come in! Let a BLACK man come in! Let amerikkka have a BLACK president!James Brown sang it, now BLACK people make it happen by registering to vote and unifying the BLACK Race behind Obama!

Your Sister,
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade

“SEN. BARACK OBAMA’S BIG WIN:IS AMERICA CHANGING HER ATTITUDE?”FROM THE FINAL CALL NEWSPAPER,JAN. 14,2008

January 29, 2008

from finalcall.com

Sen. Barack Obama’s Big Win: Is America changing her attitude?
By Richard Muhammad and
Askia Muhammad
Updated Jan 14, 2008, 10:47 am

Democratic presidential hopeful and Illinois Senator Barack Obama adresses supporters with his family during his caucus night rally at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 3. Obama surged to a stunning victory in the first 2008 White House nominating contest. Photo credit: Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
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‘A win in Iowa proves that Barack is just not a Black candidate, but that he’s a candidate of broad appeal that just happens to be African American. He does have street credibility. He’s been a civil rights lawyer and worked in our community. I think that the pundits were manipulating the polls a little bit because you could tell that he had both the organization and support to pull it off.’
—Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad
——————————————————————————–

(FinalCall.com) – U.S. politics have never seen anything like Barack Obama, the 46-year-old senator from Illinois has a change-oriented message that resonates with voters and a personal history he calls a uniquely American story.

The Democratic presidential hopeful rolled through the Iowa caucuses, before a razor thin loos of two points to the heavily favored Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. Prospects look good for late January voting in South Carolina and “Super Duper Tuesday,” over 20 state primaries and caucuses scheduled for Feb. 5. It includes Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.

The self-described “skinny kid with the funny sounding name,” whose father was from Kenya and whose mother was from Kansas, has already assured himself a place in American history, even as he continues his quest for the White House.

“If you know who you are, if you know what you believe in, if you know your principles, if you know what you are fighting for, then you can reach out to those you don’t agree with,” Mr. Obama told a crowd of more than 1,500, including students, assembled in a Concord, N.H., high school. “If they are Republicans and independents who are working with me, that makes us stronger.” Two days before the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary, Mr. Obama’s lead over Hillary Clinton had stretched to an impressive 10 points, according to opinion polls.

The first-term senator said he would demand sacrifice from Americans when necessary, be frank about his goals and open in his governance.

Mr. Obama’s open-armed appeal, typically heard in general elections not primaries, was aimed not only at independents and Republicans, but at Democrats who the Obama campaign believes are attracted by an inclusive message. The approach has made him a target of his main rivals, Sen. Clinton and John Edwards, who argue his vision is naïve. Bill Bradley, former senator from New York and onetime presidential hopeful, embraced Obamania with a Jan. 6 endorsement of the Illinois Democrat.

‘Change’ message embraced by voters

“A win in Iowa proves that Barack is just not a Black candidate, but that he’s a candidate of broad appeal that just happens to be African American. He does have street credibility. He’s been a civil rights lawyer and worked in our community. I think that the pundits were manipulating the polls a little bit because you could tell that he had both the organization and support to pull it off,” said Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, a Los Angeles-based syndicated columnist, author and political science professor.

Another clear sign Sen. Obama’s campaign has invigorated common folk: Everyday people are the majority of over 700,000 contributors that gave $100 to his cause, Dr. Samad said.

Record numbers of Democratic Caucus-goers in Iowa pushed Sen. Obama forward, giving him a stunning eight-percentage-point victory over Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. Edwards (D-N.C.).

Mr. Obama preached a message aimed at unifying the country and changing the errant national course, and he attracted supporters of all ages groups, income and education levels, females as well as males, in a state with a 95 percent White population. Young people, in particular, have flocked to his campaign, turned their enthusiasm into votes in Iowa, and are pushing hard in other states.

“They said this day would never come,” Mr. Obama said in his Iowa victory speech. “They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.”

“People were real interested in seeing a change in the United States,” Tom Petersen, an Obama Campaign Precinct Captain in Durant, Iowa, told The Final Call. “I think they’re extraordinarily dissatisfied over the last seven years with the direction the country was heading. All candidates were talking about change, of course, but Mr. Obama was saying it first and longest, and I think that’s why it resonated more with his followers.”

“In the past six months, I’ve never heard one person concerned about race. And the fact that Hilary was a woman was not a concern. There’s so many more important issues, that the fact that Obama was Black and Hillary was a woman just wasn’t important to anybody,” he said.

“Health care, the war in Iraq, education, and the fact that corporations seem to be running America, were huge concerns of everybody,” Mr. Petersen added.

Political analysts and scholars agreed. “People generally are fed up with the lies, corruption, defeat, war, management and cronyism of the Bush administration,” said Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

“Color doesn’t always matter when it comes up against people’s desire for change. People want to see fresh, new blood, new faces and talents and the same applies to (Iowa Republican Caucus winner and former Arkansas Gov. Mike) Huckabee on the Republican side.”

“The fact that he is a fresh new face and hasn’t been contaminated by Washington, as have all the others, and we don’t trust Washington anymore,” said Mr. Petersen.

“We need to manage our expectations of any candidates who can become president because there is only so much a president can do,” observed Chris Rabb, founder of Afro-Netizen.com, a leading Black blog.

Even as president, Mr. Obama might not be able to move on Black issues, if the country feels other problems have greater priority, he said. Critics will say he has a radical Black agenda, which happened to President Clinton, who moved to the right to defuse detractors, Mr. Rabb observed.

And, he added, “I’m afraid. I’m very much afraid, there are people who are far less threatening than he (Mr. Obama) who have been assailed.”

Though Rev. Jackson was a viable candidate, he was never a front-runner, Mr. Rabb noted. With front-runner status Mr. Obama terrifies certain sectors of America, he said. That sector runs from extreme white supremacist groups to respected right-wing political organizations, commentators and operatives, he argued. The White Power movement wants to physically harm Mr. Obama, while the right-wing Whites want to discredit him, Mr. Rabb said.

Right wing bloggers have already characterized Mr. Obama as an extremist Jihadist and called him “Hussein Osama” to race bait readers, mischaracterized his home church in Chicago as extremist, and Fox News spread a false report that he attended a madrassah, an Islamic school, as a child, he noted.

Will South Carolina go for Obama?

Mr. Obama has preached “a progressive populism” against the divisions of race, class and party in America, explained Dr. Ron Walters, a leading Black political scientist from the University of Maryland. “In that sense, if it continues it may mean the era that we have been in—the mean, nasty, ugly racist era that we have been in—dominated by right wing conservatism may be finally coming to an end,” he said.

Mr. Obama’s success is also connected to the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaigns, according to Dr. Walters. In his 1984 and 1988 presidential runs, Rev. Jackson brought a message that Iowans have warmed up to, he said. Rev. Jackson talked about the crisis of family farmers, poor health care, and economics that did not favor ordinary people, Dr. Walters pointed out.

“I think he (Rev. Jackson) laid the way for the theme that is now so popular, the theme of hope. The theme of hope is really what Barack Obama has talked about. Hope for end to the war, hope for health care, hope for a middle class tax cut and so forth. He has given a modern definition to the theme of hope, but let’s be clear that comes right out of the civil rights movement, right out of the African American experience,” he said.

The Obama “politics of addition” also echo Rev. Jackson, who focused on bringing in new voters, just as Mr. Obama has appealed to young people and new voters to get involved, Dr. Walters noted.

“The White vote in a state like Iowa has given permission for Black people in South Carolina to vote for Barack Obama,” said Dr. Walters. Blacks could be as much as 50 percent of voters in the Jan. 26 Democratic primary in South Carolina. Rev. Jackson, who won the primary in 1988, has endorsed Mr. Obama.

The leading knock against Mr. Obama, particularly among Black political elites that back Mrs. Clinton, was that he could not capture White voters. With that knock destroyed, Mr. Obama’s political war chest, ability to go back to supporters for more money, popularity and media attention make him a formidable candidate.

There is also a question: Will Clinton family popularity trump the chance for Black voters to significantly propel a Black man toward the presidency?

Oprah Winfrey lent her star power to the Obama mission in early December and helped draw 29,000 to the University of South Carolina’s sports arena. The South Carolina campaign invited residents to a free gospel concert with Yolanda Adams June 6 in Florence, S.C., and a June 7 chat with Obama backer and TV star Boris Kodjoe in Columbia, S.C.

The South Carolina campaign has seen Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., the son of the civil rights leader, cut vote-Obama radio ads running on gospel and R&B stations. Rep. Jackson is featured in a video on scbarackobama.com. Prominent Black pastors have been pursued and joined his campaign as Clinton backers worry about alienating their congregations or political supporters.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a former Congressional Black Caucus chair and high-ranking party official, has predicted Mr. Obama would take South Carolina, if he won Iowa. Rep. Clyburn has not made any endorsements.

The need for a Black Agenda

Despite Mr. Obama’s historical significance, Dr. Samad said, Blacks must pay attention to the issues that are important to them, such as quality healthcare and education, employment and affordable housing.

“The Hon. Elijah Muhammad taught us that we have to be vigilant on all fronts. The whole idea that one person is going to save us is really outlandish. We all have to be busy on all fronts, so whether Barack wins or not, Black people can’t fall asleep again or we’ll find ourselves back in slavery,” he said.

Dr. Walters said a Black agenda must be put before Mr. Obama. “The question is where will he give credit to these issues?” Though his campaign has been race neutral to avoid alienating Whites, Mr. Obama has addressed Black issues when speaking to Black audiences, but not as part of national campaign, he said.

“We should publically press him any way we can, the thing about presidential politics is that it is a media fishbowl and raises issues to a national level,” he said. That means presidential and congressional candidates have an opportunity to hear and address Black concerns, he said.

“I don’t care who is running we have to have—got to have—an agenda and that agenda has got to say African American at the top, African American in the middle and African America at the bottom,” said Chicago political analyst Bob Starks, who hosted an Iowa Caucus night radio show on WVON-AM.

Every group will be giving the presidential candidates an agenda, the longtime political scientist said. Blacks must have an agenda, not allow the Democrats to dump their issues, and hold candidates accountable, Dr. Starks said. The agenda has to include urban, economic, health, and African issues, he added.

“We can no longer allow ourselves to be the last to be considered in any of these areas,” said Dr. Starks.

Final Call staffer Charlene Muhammad and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

FCN is a distributor (and not a publisher) of content supplied by third parties. Original content supplied by FCN and FinalCall.com News is Copyright © 2008 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com. Content supplied by third parties are the property of their respective owners.

This entry was posted on January 14, 2008 at 4:24 pm and is filed under AFRICA, BLACK CHILDREN, BLACK CULTURE, BLACK MEN, BLACK NATIONALISM, BLACK PEOPLE, BLACK WOMEN, BLACKS IN AMERIKKKA!, OBAMA-A BLACK PRESIDENT!, THE BLACK RACE. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Edit this entry.

One Response to ““SEN.BARACK OBAMA’S BIG WIN:IS AMERICA CHANGING HER ATTITUDE?” FROM THE FINAL CALL NEWSPAPER,JAN. 14,2008”
Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade Says:

January 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm edit

James Brown sang it:”Let a man come in!”

JB meant” Let a Black man come in!” LET A BLACK PRESIDENT COME IN! amerikkka!

OBAMA:A BLACK PRESIDENT FOR amerikkka!

January 29, 2008

OBAMA:A BLACK PRESIDENT FOR amerikkka!
James Brown sang it! “LET A MAN COME IN”! He meant a BLACK MAN come in,meaning his BLACK BEAUTIFUL SELF! Now we say “LET A BLACK MAN COME IN”!LET A BLACK MAN BE PRESIDENT OF amerikkka! After all it is really just largely a ceremonial post. The white-mafia-military-industrial-complex really controls the president but LET A BLACK MAN COME IN! amerikkka needs to save it’s badly damaged image now which is muddy-bloody -and -spent and only a BLACK MAN (can be used)to do that! If in the process that BLACK MAN can stand up against whites with GOD on his side and do something for BLACK People let him DO IT! Obama is a Black man who CHOSE to be BLACK! With his white mother/her family raising him he could have chosen to be a mixed up tiger woods/haile barry or any other house slave -a product of a slavemaster/slavemistress union but he CHOSE to be BLACK! He decided to identify with his absent BLACK(AFRICAN) father! He got down with BLACKS in the ghetto and he corrected the white mistake his father made by MARRYING A BLACK WOMAN! BLACK ON,OBAMA! WE PRAY FOR YOU,THAT ALL THE assassination plans/racist/evil/plans of the devil WILL NOT PREVAIL! ASE!(AMEN IN YORUBA LANGUAGE!) OUR PRAYER POINT EVERYDAY IS “OLODUMARE(GOD) LET YOUR CHOSEN BLACK MAN COME IN SAFE AND SOUND TO DO GOD’S WORK IN THE white house!

LET A REAL MAN COME IN! LET A BLACK MAN COME IN!

THE FINAL CALL NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL:”IS AMERICA’S ATTITUDE CHANGING?”,JAN. 14,2008

January 29, 2008

from finalcall.com

——————————————————————————–

FCN Editorial – Is America’s attitude changing?
By FinalCall.com News
Updated Jan 14, 2008, 04:21 pm

It is fundamentally implausible that a Black man could ever be President of the United States.

——————————————————————————–
Our hope is that America will take the best of the Obama message, commit herself to and begin the long and arduous journey to reverse her present course, which cannot be done without justice for the children of her ex-slaves and all who still yearn to breathe free.
——————————————————————————–

And yet, a Black man, a first-term U.S. senator from Illinois with a name from Kenyan descent, has electrified the country and captured international attention with his bid to become the Democratic Party’s 2008 White House nominee. His political success in almost “lily White” Iowa and potential success in upcoming primaries, have boggled the minds of political scientists, pundits, and informed observers alike. Even the GOP candidates are asked to explain “Obamania” and react to this new phenomenon. What is happening here?

There was a time when a Black man with an African or Islamic sounding-name, like Muhammad Ali or Kareem Abdul Jabaar, was deeply misunderstood.

But in 2007 with Americans disgusted with Capitol Hill gridlock, distrustful of the man who currently occupies the White House, unsettled by an unpopular war, worried about escalating oil and gas prices, buffeted by home losses and a home mortgage crisis, hit by unemployment, fearful of loss of their middle class status, and generally uncertain about the future, a candidate with the name Barack Obama is inspiring hope for meaningful change.

Mr. Obama has made what one commentator called a move for “vertical politics,” not right nor left, but politics aimed at pulling the country together across political and racial lines. Recent presidential elections have seen a divided electorate with Democrats and Republicans searching for that sliver of an advantage to achieve victory.

Instead of trying to slice off a segment of voters for a political win, Mr. Obama has called for expansion of the electorate by urging and inspiring more people, young people in particular, to get involved in the process.

He has risen above crass appeals based on single issues or divisive “us” versus “them” arguments to call on Americans to unite and embrace a willingness to seek common ground for the good of the country.

While Sen. Hillary Clinton was surrounded by the faces of the political old guard when she spoke after Iowa Caucus results were final, a sea of enthusiastic young, old, middle-aged and multi-racial Americans roared their approval of Obama and his call for a new age in U.S. politics.

In this presidential campaign, Sen. Obama “has been groomed, and wisely so, to be seen more as a unifier, rather than one who speaks only for the hurt of Black people. In this, he has tapped the dissatisfaction of many Whites, Blacks, Hispanics and Asians across the spectrum, because who cares what color you are if you can save them from the mess that they find themselves in,” observed the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in a recent interview with The Final Call.

It appears that American voters are generally fed up with the deceit, the lies, the corruption, the war, the fear-mongering, and the cronyism of the Bush administration. After eight years of ruinous policies perpetrated by the 43rd president, Blacks, Whites, young and old, seem to want fresh, new ideas and thinking in leadership.

While Sen. Obama does not drape himself in the mantle of the nationalist Red, Black, and Green flag of Marcus Garvey, he is acutely aware upon whose shoulders he stands—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Carole Mosley-Braun, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, and others.

Sen. Obama had just graduated from Columbia University when the Rev. Jackson launched his historic 1984 Presidential campaign and, according to published reports, once told the Rev. Jackson that watching him debate Walter Mondale and Gary Hart, inspired him.

Rep. Chisholm, a Black congresswoman from New York, made the bold move in 1972 to seek a major party nomination for president. “Catalyst for Change. Chisholm for President ‘72” read one of her campaign buttons. The first Black woman elected to Congress ran as someone who was “unbought, unbossed” and ready to represent all Americans. “I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo,” she once said. She wanted change.

Once Rep. Chisholm smashed the glass ceiling, Rev. Jackson further inspired Blacks and others with presidential runs in 1984 and 1988. With his signature themes of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Our Time Has Come,” the civil rights leader stressed the need to expand the base of the party and registered millions of new voters. He was a voice for the voiceless in politics and campaigned against corporate and divisive interests, and for dialogue with the Palestinian people in their quest for justice against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He spoke to the hurt of the Black community but forged a Rainbow Coalition to seek justice for all. He called for justice for the Palestinians, endured death threats and argued America could be better, stronger and more progressive if everyone had a fair shot at success, and equal opportunity.

Rev. Jackson strode through Iowa cow pastures in overalls, demanded a fair shake for family farmers, better access to health care and economic policies that favored everyday people.

“Leadership must heed the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing and unity, for they are the key to achieving our mission. Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders can change things,” he said in his 1984 speech to the Democratic National Convention.

Black candidates for president have never tried to take the country back to the “good old days,” like Ronald Reagan, their call has always been for more justice, more freedom, true equality, for change.

Mr. Obama’s call is inspiring greater hope and increased grassroots activism. People are starting to believe in the promise, or the potential, of what America could be as a Nation, if she would live up to the true meaning of her creed.“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. And endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Still, as Sen. Obama has talked about “One America,” “the United States of America,” the country’s reality is sadly different. America still suffers from segregation in housing patterns and schools. Blacks and Latinos still lag behind when it comes to income, education, jobs and healthcare. Racial profiling remains a problem and poverty continues to grind away at the lives of those stuck in the ghettos, barrios and trailer parks of America.

In a trade-off for his change and unity message, Sen. Obama has run a race neutral campaign in a year with increased racial violence and high-profile cases of Blacks targeted by law enforcement. That says something about the reality of America.

Even a man who inspires millions and who is described as transcending from an individual into a movement must tread lightly, or not at all, when it comes to matters of race and justice. The pain, the problem, the strife is too deeply rooted in 400 years of the American experience to simply be uprooted by a single political campaign or a lone presidential candidate.

It is in fact up to Black thinkers, leaders, activists and all of us to remind the presidential candidates, senatorial candidates, congressional candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and state legislative candidates, and even mayoral and city council candidates of the need to address the long-unsolved problems in this country.

We must not let down our guard because of a friendly face, or even a face that looks like us that may reside in the White House. We must press our cause and our issues, just as others put forward issues candidates should address. We must forge a Black United Front, organize and galvanize support for our cause and do all that we can to help ourselves.

We must also remember these insightful words from Min. Farrakhan: “There are forces which Sen. Obama may see, or may not see, and these are the forces that kill U.S. presidents when the presidents don’t act as they think the president should act to further their ends; thus the killing of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

“The forces of racism in this country are still very strong. Even though there is strong mass appeal, if the racist elements in this country thinks that Barack Obama really will be our next president, they may come out of the woodwork if they can’t bend him, and hurt our Brother, and therefore show the country though the masses may say, ‘We like him,’ the forces may say ‘He is not one of us.’ ”

Our hope is that America will take the best of the Obama message, commit herself to and begin the long and arduous journey to reverse her present course, which cannot be done without justice for the children of her ex-slaves and all who still yearn to breathe free.

FCN is a distributor (and not a publisher) of content supplied by third parties. Original content supplied by FCN and FinalCall.com News is Copyright © 2008 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com. Content supplied by third parties are the property of their respective owners.

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