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Goodbye, Harlem

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway today, I can't help but think that Harlem will cease to be the capital of Black America. No, it's not the official capital. But for decades it has been an emotional focal point for the dreams and aspirations of the African American community in the United States. Today, the leadership that helped foster the enduring image it has today is shut out of this historic convention.

Four family names are synonymous with Harlem's power and place in New York and national life. Rep. Charles Rangel is the dean of the state's congressional delegation and now chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. David Paterson became the state's first black governor after the spectacular implosion of Eliot Spitzer earlier this year. His father, Basil Paterson, was a member of the New York State Senate in the 1960s and was the state's first black secretary of state (1979-1983). David Dinkins became New York City's first black mayor (1989-1993). And Percy Sutton was Manhattan Borough president from 1965 to 1977.

Yet, as the party gets set to nominate the first African American to lead a political party, neither Gov. Paterson nor Chairman Rangel nor Mayor Dinkins has a major speaking role at the convention. Sure, they all supported Clinton. She was, after all, the hometown candidate for the nomination. And Rangel would have been a distraction with the controversy surrounding his New York apartments and his fundraising for a school for public service that bears his name. But the struggles, sacrifice and achievements of Rangel and Dinkins helped blaze the path Obama walks today. His success ultimately will be their success. So, if the senator from Illinois is successful in his quest to become the 44th president of the United States, the emotional capital of Black America will no longer rest on 125th Street but on Pennsylvania Avenue.

By Jonathan Capehart  | August 25, 2008; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: The Convention by Telephone


Sorry we failed you, Hillary. We should had worked harder - we should had worked smarter. Now we must accept Obama (the modern JFK) as our Commander-In-Chief, tutored by Biden (our new Dick Cheney) ... then again, perhaps not ... and I do approve this message.

Posted by: Louie | August 25, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

You stopped to soon. The message of Obamba is to leave the past behind. So he dumped on the NY blacks as well as the Clintons. He will of course lose the election based on that alone.
Selfish is Mr. Obambas middle name.

Posted by: robinhood | August 25, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton should never have moved his office to Harlem. He should move out as soon as the election is over and the dust clears. Let the black community experience what little Obama will be doing for it, on its own.

The Clinton foundation should pull out of Africa and move its focus to the Americas, too. Africa is getting tons of investment money and commodities producer revenue. At this point, if populations there aren't getting AIDS medicine or health care, it's a societal choice due to social development decisions they are putting off. At this point, the Clinton Foundation and other aid groups are only helping the leadership put off social program development and perpetuating the dysfunction.

The next decade should see the rise of Africa as the next commodities led emerging market to develop. The kind of aid that the Clinton Foundation delivers is that which helps unprogressive governments. They only help continue to support dysfunction if they stay in Africa as the commodity market money starts to surge in to the continent.

The Clinton Foundation should pull out of Africa and the Clintons should pull out of Harlem.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 26, 2008 7:28 AM | Report abuse

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