What are the Obama campaign managers thinking?
By Walter Smith
The response from the Obama campaign managers to NNPA Chairman Cloves Campbell was, “The audience your newspapers reach is not the demographic of the campaign.”
What a ridiculous posture to take in regards to the Black Press, the father of progress of Black Americans.
The U.S. Black Press is 185 years old this year. It began in 1827 when John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish started Freedom’s Journal in New York with the creed, “Too long have others spoken for us … We wish to plead our own cause.”
During the 1920s and ‘30s, major newspapers virtually ignored Black America. Consequently by the Civil War, 40 Black newspapers were being published. Today, the
National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) consists of 200 member newspapers with a major presence in every major city in the country.
In 1932, Robert L. Vann, publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier, and Robert S Abbott, publisher of the Chicago Defender, steered Black voters en masse to the Democratic Party, breaking traditional ties to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and helping to elect Franklin D. Roosevelt president.
Gunnar Myrdal, author of “An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern
Democracy,” said the strongest, most influential institution among Blacks was its crusading press. It set the stage for — and helped engineer — monumental change from school desegregation in 1954 to the voting rights bill of 1957, the marches, sit-ins and the civil rights legislation of 1964.
It is the Black Church and the Black Press that is responsible for the beginning of political, economical and social progression of Blacks in America and has been the guardian and promoter of that progress going forward.
This persistent crusade by the Black Press is in large part responsible for the presence of a Black man in the White House today. Does the Obama campaign need effective publicity to get him re-elected?
In the face of the viscous negative campaign being promoted by the opposition, the obvious answer is yes. Given the Black Press’s history of influencing Black readers, does the Obama campaign need the Black Press? Again, the obvious answer is yes.
While the Obama campaign managers are playing the “tokenism” game with the Black Press and ignoring one of Barack Obama’s greatest assets, the opposition is playing a very effective numbers game. Their game is to eliminate that short majority vote of 53 percent for Democrats in 2008 and to eliminate his landslide electoral vote.
An effective way to do this is to reduce the democratic voting base. Purge the voting rolls and institute special voter ID laws — these two procedures will eliminate millions of lifetime voters from the polls and the majority of them will be African American and the elderly. All but nine states have voter ID laws. Requirements may vary from state to state.
In a recent voter purge in Florida, the Miami Herald found that 58 percent of the people in a sample of 2,700 “ineligible” voters were Hispanic and 14 percent were Black. Whites and Republicans were least likely to be barred from voting. Even a World War II veteran was told he was not a citizen and so to stay away from the voting booth.
The heaviest concentration of American Blacks are in the states with the most electoral votes: California, 55; Texas, 34; New York, 31; Florida, 27; Pennsylvania, 21; Illinois, 21; Ohio, 20; Michigan, 17; Georgia, 15; New Jersey, 15; and North Carolina, 15.
According to the Obama for America (OFA) campaign officials, their advertising resources would be better utilized by targeting younger Blacks that are more inclined to use digital, social media and other electronic means of communication.
In my family, where there are hundreds of teenaged and young adults who are regular subscribers to the social media platform, I raised the question of how much education are they getting via social media as to the effect of the voter ID laws?
The answer was a resounding “none.” This creates a real dilemma for the publishers of the Black Press. We would like to see
President Obama re-elected for another four years. We cannot afford to stand idly by and watch the opposition steal this election by successfully executing their planned numbers game. We know how to offset this trickery within our readership but do not have the proper financial resources to get the job done.
If Barack Obama expects to win this election, he must instruct his campaign managers to take a more realistic approach to the value of the Black Press.
Walter Smith is the publisher New York Beacon.