Black leaders should let voters decide on Obama

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dear Editor:

In Melvin Van Peebles’ roadway musical, &8220;Ain’t Suppose to Die a Natural Death,&8221; one of his characters laments over the difficulties of being African American.

I am certain, there are days when Sen. Barack Obama wants to sing a similar dirge.

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Few people are surprised when Barack’s blackness Romney religion, or Clinton’s cleavage, becomes the central issue of the presidential campaign. When candidates are reluctant to clearly define their positions on national issues to a fluid electorate, it is not surprising that a four hundred dollar hair cut manages t muster as much media attention as a half-billion dollar-a-day war.

Sen. Obama, although quite prepared to face the voters who have concerns relative to his color or even

his name, must find it very difficult to understand the volley of political missiles fired at him by black leaders. One prominent national black leader intimates that Obama is not black enough on the issues.

In Montgomery, two black leaders thought it necessary to voice their opposition to his campaign, stating that white folks aren’t ready for a black president.

The logic of these black leaders made sense to me in 1984 when the Rev. Jesse

Jackson was a candidate for president. I have since repented for my ignorance. The Alabama Democratic Conference endorsed Walter Mondale in the presidential primary, arguing that Jackson couldn’t win. Well, Mondale won the nomination of the party, but lost 49 states in the general election. As a matter of fact, when the dust settled, only one candidate stood as president. The Rev. Jackson ran a respectable campaign and did far better than others who were cast into the circle of the also ran. The Rev. Jackson didn’t get the presidency, but African Americans got from his campaign the pride needed to work toward the day when even that office will not exceed our grasp.

Approximately 24 years have elapsed since that campaign and we apparently have not grown wiser with time. Sen.Obama is erudite, articulate, as white as he is black, a

relative of Dick Cheney, and is a U.S. senator who never voted for the war, and black

leaders judge him on the basis of what they perceive as the mindset of white people. Had

Rosa Parks, Mary Smith, Gov. Douglas Wilder, Mobile Mayor Sam Jones and the many other heroes of history halted long enough to raise their finger to the political winds just to see what white folks were ready for, perhaps there would not yet be a candidate of color for us to courteously castigate.

If we follow the logic of these black leaders during the presidential preference election, we are telling Sen. Vivian Figures and other qualified persons to stop dreaming and yield to the status quo. I don’t think that black folks will buy that logic from politicians who will become the beneficiaries of Hillary’s political patronage.

Besides, I don’t think that white folks have ever let Joe and Alvin decide what they are ready for. We shouldn’t either. Peace.

Joseph Rembert Sr.