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Gary convention: Showcase of political impotence

GEORGE E. CURRY | 6/20/2016, 9:50 a.m.
(EmergeNewsOnline.com) – Last weekend was supposed to be a remix of the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. ...
George Curry

(EmergeNewsOnline.com) – Last weekend was supposed to be a remix of the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. Richard G. Hatcher, who became the first Black mayor of Gary in 1968; Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the son of the late poet/activist Amira Baraka, one of the original organizers; and Tuskegee, Alabama, Mayor Johnny Ford were among the co-conveners.

According to organizers, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had confirmed they would attend. Convention officials had been in touch with Donald Trump’s camp and were convinced that he, too, would land his jet in Gary. But within a week of the event, convention organizers said each presidential candidate said they would not be in attendance and offered to send a “representative” instead.

For all of the talk about the importance of the Black vote and, in Trump’s case, “My African American,” it was what Sanders would characterize as a “hugeee” slap in the face.

To illustrate just how “hugeee,” consider the legwork for the conference performed by the National Policy Alliance. Its members include:

• Blacks in Government

• Congressional Black Caucus

• Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

• Judicial Council of the National Bar Association

• National Association of Black County Officials

• National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials

• National Black Council of School Board Members

• National Black Caucus of State Legislators

• National Organization of Black County Officials

• World Conference of Mayors

NPA’s website declared its “purpose is to give voice to the nearly 10,000 African American elected officials and the more than 3 million African American government employees who serve the nation. Together, these public servants represent not only the interests of the 35 million African Americans, but the interests of all Americans. For example, the 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus represent approximately 40 million people of every racial and ethnic group.”

Yet, the major political candidates thought so little of African Americans that they were only willing to send a “representative” instead of coming themselves.

I can say without fear of contradiction that neither of those candidates would have exhibited such an appalling disrespect toward a White organization of similar standing. As we have already seen, all of the major candidates cleared their schedules to speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Sanders spoke there even though he believes “to be successful, we have to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza, they suffer from an unemployment rate of 44 percent – the highest in the world – and a poverty rate nearly equal to that.”

Except for Trump – who had advance warning that he would probably be booed – Republican presidential candidates knew they had to appear before the Conservative Political Action Conference. Ted Cruz was there. Marco Rubio and John Kasich checked in. And so did Ben Carson. They were too afraid to not appear if they wanted to win the conservative vote.