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Black and Urban Groups Ponder an Obama Presidency

The NAACP held an election watching party at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. Pictured, Tiffany Payton, in leather jacket, and Barbara Mack, both of the District, embrace each other as CNN announces that Obama has been declared the winner. (Bill O'Leary/ The Washington Post)

By Krissah Williams Thompson
For one group of policy advocates, the election of the first black president has turned politicking on its head. How do black advocacy groups push a black agenda to a black president?

Under unfriendly Republican administrations, they protested and demanded.

Under friendlier Democratic administrations, they pushed forcefully on social issues of interest to the African American community.

The new dynamics of a federal government headed by President-elect Barack Obama could demand a gentler approach, and leaders of the NAACP, Urban League and other groups were sober-minded at a forum today -- after admittedly giddy celebrations -- as they considered how best to proceed.

"This is just one more moment where our access to power and our avenues for how you get things done have expanded," said Benjamin Jealous, the 35-year-old president of the NAACP, at a Washington forum organized today by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. "We are now at a different place in black political power. We're going to have to always reserve the hard options of in your face advocacy, but we have a lot of softer options for getting things done as well. We need to recognize that."

Ronald Walters, director of the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland, said blacks expect Obama to attend first to the issues of the broader electorate, such as the nation's economic woes, ending the war in Iraq and providing universal health care.

"The question is where are our interests in that pile," Walters said. "We must work with [Obama] to deal with our issues. We have a black agenda that needs immediate attention and it needs to be in on the transition now. We need to help him deal with his other policy issues and then raise our agenda."

That agenda, Walters said, is long and includes: the mass incarceration of African Americans, poverty, pushing Obama to open a White House office on urban policy, education, employment training and dealing with health care disparities.

There is also hope that lingering questions about racial profiling and uneven law enforcement will be dealt with, Jealous said.

"We have a president whose name is Barack Hussein Obama. He has had a hard time catching a cab and one assumes at some point in the last seven years he has had a hard time catching a plane," he said. "Those sorts of issues we know that he has personal insight into -- and we need to hold him accountable on them."

The black advocates are taking nothing for granted, said Avis Jones-DeWeever, a director at the National Council of Negro Women.

"We can tell by the way this brother ran his campaign that he doesn't work on CP time, so we don't need to," said Jones, referring to a slang term for a propensity for tardiness. "We need to move now because he will."

By Web Politics Editor  |  November 7, 2008; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Cast of Characters  
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Iluv2read- When People of Color learn to stop making it an issue, is the ONLY time it will ever stop BEING an issue!

Personally, I am SICK of it!

FYI-I was only Half Joking about a NAAWP. Keep up the Garbage NAACP, La Raza and others, and you will provoke a reaction from many People who will soon begin to feel intimidated by what the repercussions of your Unified Groups will mean. La-Raza types especially! I am currently in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, of the United States of America!

Want a Job? Habla Espanol? Sorry! You HAVE to!

Reconquista in action! :-(

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 10, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse


• Retain Gates and Mukasey along with Mueller

• Lay plans to put "homeland" agencies under the wing of Defense, Justice and Treasury

Contrary to mainstream media convention wisdom, Barack Obama's most pressing task at hand is not dealing with the economic crisis.

He must first move to consolidate his power and disarm potential rogue elements within the bowels of the apparachik that may be tempted to subvert his leadership.

Major elements of the security complex no longer fall under the purview of the Department of Defense or the Justice Department. Their independence, and lack of meaningful oversight, make these entities a potential breeding ground for resistance to his ascension to the presidency.

The situation is compounded by the fact that some of these entities are privy to virtually all channels of communications and surveillance.

President-elect Obama would be wise to co-opt any potential resistance by retaining the services of Defense Secretary Gates, and, at least for the short term, Attorney General Mukasey. FBI Director Mueller's term isn't up until 2010; the retention of Gates and Mukasay, along with the continued service of Mueller, would act as a powerful deterrent to potential rogue actors who do not fall under the command of those three key security officials.

The President-elect should immediately announce the retention of these Bush administration appointees. Then he should lay plans for a Congressionally-mandated reorganization that would once again bring the agencies of the Department of Homeland Security under the direct purview and authority of existing cabinet departments -- notably, Defense, Justice and Treasury.

Such a reorganization would establish greater accountability on the part of the Homeland Security agencies, and would better facilitate meaningful Congressional oversight.

This reorganization would retire the title "Homeland Security," which is linguistically reminiscent of the rhetoric of Nazi Germany.

Gates and Mukasey, it could be argued, already have demonstrated their capability for independent decision-making that puts the good of the nation above partisan politics. By giving them a vote of confidence now, President-elect Obama would demonstrate bi-partisanship while deterring potential rogue resistance to his leadership.


Not as long as government-supported extrajudicial targeting squads are "community stalking" American citizens, making a mockery of the rule of law:




Posted by: scrivener50 | November 10, 2008 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it wonderful the blacks ponder a Obama Presidency while OVERWHELMINGLY, CALIFORNIA BLACK BARACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS VOTED YESON8.. The California Gay Community supported the California black community & Barack Obama only to have the Negro California Supporters Of Obama strip homosexuals of their Civil Rights and vote against a Community of good people who have been at the forefront of defense in racial discrimination for many decades. If 70% of all California Negroes and Mexicans found it appropriate
and fair to celebrate the victory of Civil Rights and Equality
in the Presidency of Barack Obama while voting to set back the Civil Rights
of Gay, Bi Sexual, Lesbian, & Trans Gender Americans......
Shouldn't it be illegal for blacks to marry whites?
Shouldn't we work diligently to enforce immigration laws?
Shouldn't we finally put an immediate end to Welfare, Illegal & Unfunded Health Care, & all government assistance programs?
Isn't the USA a nation of fair and balanced laws that must be enforced?
At the origins of fairness and in the fight against all discrimination, The Gay Community has been at the
forefront of civil rights with community organization and monetary support for African Americans,
all people of color, religious diversity, & sexual/gender/gay issues. Why now, did the Negroes and Mexicans take this opportunity to annihilate the Gay Civil Rights Movement & Discriminate With A Hate Filled Vengeance
Targeted At Gay, Lesbian, Bi Sexual, And Trans Gender Americans? It's become apparent that the Obama Black
Agenda Is One Of Exclusion Sold Under An African Lie Of Inclusion. This Historic Presidential Election
Will Prove To Be The Largest Mistake Of American Political History: Obama & his tribe will use their uncivilized churchs, lack of family values, & racial vengence to pervert Christ and civil rights while gleefully abolishing equal rights from groups, one by one. The Gay Community first, they are the easiest to pick
on & everyone likes beating up a homosexual. Nov. 4th 2008, Away With The Gays....
Who Will The Blacks & Mexicans Go After Next? For the Black sake of Religion and Black Marriages, do you have to be on the DOWN LOW or BEHIND BARS for man-on-man relationships?

Posted by: wyattobamanation | November 9, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

highwaybluesoccer and SAINT---

Black people, African-American, people of color that live in America, whatever name you like, are crying tears of joy not because they personally won something but because they can finally feel as though America is truly being to change into what it was originally meant for, a place of freedom for all which now includes those groups I mentioned before as well as other oppressed groups.

Organizations such as the NAACP where made when there was no group to assist oppressed people of color an din some ways is still needed because of racial disparates.

Every minority group has had to fight for their place in this "land of the free" due to someone saying they don't deserve because of the color of their skin.

Although President elect Obama never promised anything to minorities, he brought hope that people can change and that this land is truly a place for all people to be identified as American as Dr. King would have wanted.

Posted by: Iluv2read | November 9, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I seriously do not understand all the tears of joy from the African Americans, obama is more white than he is black, his mom was 100% white, so why is he being called the first African-American President? Is that so that the black people think that they have won something? They said this election was not about race, then why do they act like it was? Oprah and Jessie should win academy awards for their display of tears, If he is truely an African American President, he will rid all the Black neighborhoods of the illegal invaders, especially from Salvador, who have taken over in D.C.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | November 8, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Joe Jankovic that President Obama should move quickly to ban assault weapons. Way too many children are being gunned down by them.

Posted by: mwhoke | November 8, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

What would I be thought of, if I tried starting the:

Association for the
Advancement of

And wanted to rally all White People to collectively vote on Issues that benefit White People. Go out to Business's run by White People, and Approach White benefactors for College grants for Under-privileged White Kids. Sought Special Exemptions for White Neighborhoods...

All Lilly White;

All the Time! ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 8, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The first item on the agenda should be the violence that is tearing apart the urban centers of this country.

Assault weapons should be controlled as they are only used for the hunting of human beings!

Posted by: JoeJankovic | November 8, 2008 6:30 AM | Report abuse


Could you imagine a GAY President?


40 Years ago, people felt the same way about Blacks.

Looks like the conservatives have a new minority to whip.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | November 7, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I have been one of President-elect Obama's most vociferous supporters in the blogosphere. How disappointing to learn that so many of the people who voted for him, enabled passage of the bigoted Proposition 8 in California.

Melissa Etheridge has announced she will no longer pay California state taxes and has urged others to follow in her footsteps.

I will take that one step further and suggest a boycott of travel to the state.

For more on this:
"Melissa Etheridge Rightly Tells California What They Can Do With Proposition 8"

Posted by: scootmandubious | November 7, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I think black groups, urban groups, etc are not as likely to see "the goals of their organization" realized as much as they might hope. I think everyone may see a fairer balance to things and a bit of leftward movement, but I find it unlikely that the color of Obama's skin is going to cause him to key on "black issues". That'd be extremely risky, politically, and I tend to think he sees thing on a bigger-scope class level.

Posted by: DankoRamone | November 7, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

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