The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Presidential Candidates Court S.C. Black Newspaper

By Krissah Williams
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Black newspapers have a long history of advocacy, dating back to the founding of Freedom's Journal in 1827 to denounce slavery and push for black people's political rights. South Carolina Black News, published here every week for the last 34 years and distributing more than 50,000 copies throughout the state, is applying the same racial advocacy to its coverage of the tight race for the Democratic nomination.

The paper hasn't officially endorsed a candidate, but managing editor Wendy Brinker admits there is an editorial tilt toward Sen. Barack Obama because he is the first black candidate with a shot at winning the White House. "I guess if one were to read between the lines, it would be favorable for Obama," she said, laughing.

Two weeks ago, the paper's top story was about South Carolina political activist Rick Wade's work for Obama as a senior national adviser. Last week, the paper featured a story about the top three Democratic candidates' plans to visit a local church, and an editorial by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, endorsing Obama.

South Carolina Black News was going to press as The Trail stopped by for a visit, and Brinker was putting together a story on local reactions to the hullabaloo surrounding Clinton's comment regarding the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. needing President Lyndon Johnson to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. All of the Democratic candidates have sought to quell the discussion -- but Brinker is fanning the flames.

"In my mind she has not come up with a credible explanation," she said of Clinton. "I think we have to address it. The die is cast."

Brinker, who is the only white person on the paper's staff, took the helm three months ago. She would not have fit the mold laid out by the founders of Freedom's Journal, who launched the nation's first black newspaper with this motto: "We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us."

But she said she has been a political activist for years and worked in the black community. She said her goal is to inform the paper's readership as the presidential race swings to this state where African Americans are expected to make up half of all voters in that primary.

Though Brinker favors Obama, he doesn't have the pages of the South Carolina Black News locked up. Both Hillary Clinton's and John Edwards's campaign have reached out to the newspaper with some success. Clinton's campaign got a front-page story when it enticed Brinker by offering her interviews with poet Maya Angelou and actress Victoria Rowell, who are both backing Clinton. Recently, Brinker also interviewed actor Danny Glover, who is backing Edwards, and is putting together a piece on him for next week's edition.

Posted at 3:25 PM ET on Jan 18, 2008
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Should African Americans Vote for Obama Abroad his Denouncement of Jeremiah Wright?
Written by Frederick Alexander Meade
May 4th 2008

In this season's democratic primary cycle, a tremendous amount of interest and support has been garnered by the Senator from Illinois, Barak Obama. Of the many supporters prevailing from a plethora of demographically diverse populations, unquestionably his most loyal constituents have been African Americans. Americans of African descent have overwhelmingly helped to anchor the charismatic Obama's campaign with polling figures that reveal a more than ninety percent support rating and have subsequently helped to earn him the status of democratic front runner throughout many of the primary contests. In recent days however a considerable amount of attention has been directed not squarely towards the leading democratic candidate Obama, but rather his former pastor.
Jeremiah Wright the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, (A Christian church based in Chicago) who served as Senator Obama's spiritual mentor for sixteen years has been the object of great controversy. Much of the turmoil surrounding Dr. Wright has germinated as a result of his past and present diatribes, which accuse the United States government of acting as an imperialistic enterprise that has severely harmed the physical, social and political conditions of specific ethnic American populations as well as others abroad. The emphatic preacher has cited numerous foreign and domestic policies as well as military acts that range from the United States history of slavery experienced by African Americans, to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as current military operations in Iraq as evidence of our nation's tyrannical folly. Furthermore, Obama's former pastor has asserted that these and other related acts imposed upon vulnerable populations have helped to produce and sustain anti-American sentiment throughout the international community and (with the exception of our present military campaign) ultimately served as the catalyst for the devastation wrought on 9/11. As to be expected, these beliefs as well as others expressed by Jeremiah Wright have startled and subsequently raised the ire of much of the national public, except perhaps for many of those belonging to a particular group.
African Americans have throughout much of their existence in the United States been exposed to and nurtured by preachers within spiritual establishments that adhere to a prophetic theology rooted in liberation and social justice. Many a pastor and leader alike such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Dr. Joseph Lowery have employed this oratorical tradition in helping to confront and navigate through the many oppressive conditions faced by their congregates. As a result of this oratorical history many African Americans are not necessarily unsettled in anyway by the views expressed by Dr. Wright. However, in the face of some of Reverend Wright's sermons and most recent statements defending his political and social perceptions, Barak Obama has denounced the message and contrary to an earlier position, has to some degree denounced the former pastor himself.
The Senator's denouncement of his former pastor's statements as well as his denial that he even had knowledge of Reverend Wright's pastoral propensities may be seen by some as an act of political pandering to the larger society. This argument is made stronger by the fact that Obama recounts in his book The Audacity of Hope, it was the theology of liberation and social justice preached in Reverend Wright's church that initially inspired him to become a member of the Christian faith.
In light of what may be interpreted as political back peddling which conceivably undermines some of the traditions and practices that have sustained and strengthened African Americans through numerous periods of struggle, one question must be asked. Should those African Americans who have supported Barak Obama continue do so?
The answer to this question may lie in one's understanding of the perpetual circumstance under which the Illinois Senator finds himself. A reasonable assessment of Obama's extended involvement in Dr. Wright's church in addition to his own admissions would suggest that he indeed was aware of the principles, which influenced the evangelical and subsequent political dynamic of the institution. However, the emergence of such an acknowledgement would almost certainly be received as an exceptionally threatening proposition by the general public. A sizable portion of the American population has not experienced life as a member of a disenfranchised group who has had its intelligence, character and very humanity questioned for centuries. As a result of this development it stands to reason that Reverend Wright's dramatic use of biblical principles in challenging these notions as well as the system which produced it, would cause confusion, mistrust and some measure of disdain among those members of society who invariably believe in that system. Barak Obama has not the luxury of ignoring the perceptual dispositions of citizens who are not privy to, nor readily accepting of the sensibilities derived by others who may hold experiences outside of their own.
Another evolvement that has helped to form the political landscape, which Obama must maneuver through, pertains to the manner in which many African Americans analyze political and social events as opposed to that of the larger society. As a manifestation of years of mistreatment, sanctioned by administrative policies set fourth by the highest offices, many Americans of African descent have developed a critical eye in interpreting the actions of our government. It is often with a sense of mistrust that numerous African Americans process the deeds of political institutions, while a considerable segment of American society is subject to construe the behaviors of our government as being grounded in honor and thus well intentioned. This prevailing societal paradox functions to further identify the reason for why Dr. Wright's ideas surrounding our nations' diplomatic and militaristic tendencies have so exposed a divide among various groups in this country. While Obama may have an understanding of the fashion by which many African Americans filter specific forms of information, again he must not completely forsake the belief patterns of other sections within the electorate who may not have underwent the unique experiences that have caused the phenomenon to exist.
Senator Obama has found himself in a precarious and potentially strenuous position. The momentum and stamina of his candidacy has been made possible in large part by the enormous African American following he enjoys. However, Obama cannot avail himself to all of the desires and expectations placed upon him by those whom consider him to be one of their own, without alienating other portions of the electorate. A segment of the voting body which must be secured if Obama is to become the forty fourth president of the United States of America. For those African Americans who believe in Barak Obama's message of change and have rendered their support to his campaign, consider viewing the electoral process from the prism from which he must. If one has the courage to do so, a vote of support is still in order.

Written by: Frederick Alexander Meade
Cell number: (770) 757-1820

Posted by: Frederick Alexander Meade | May 5, 2008 11:24 AM

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