Some weeks ago, The Chicago Defender, ran an article criticizing presidential hopeful Barack Obama saying that he refused to meet with any and all Black chambers of commerce. The article claimed that he “appears to despise Black chambers of commerce.” Clearly, the Chamber of Commerce is somewhat angry that Senator Obama has not met with them or did not attend one of their functions.I thought this commentary was going to be anti-Obama, it wasn't but hey it's a step in the right direction for Obama. Check this out...
The story is misleading suggesting that Barack is not sensitive to Black enterprise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jim Reynolds is a very close friend of Barack’s and he is an entrepreneur, the founder and proprietor of Loop Capital. Early on when Barack was considering running for the Illinois Senate, Reynolds was the President of Alliance Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE). I now hold that office.
Barack used to attend ABLE meetings to hear business discussion of what the now Black entrepreneur was really up against. He was usually quiet and more observant than talkative. He was really listening to our business challenges. He was educating himself and looking at what role legislation and/or politics could play to improve Black enterprise. He was perceptive and he wanted to be an advocate. But most importantly he wanted to understand. Solid intelligent discussions ranged from the good of affirmative action to the challenges of crossing over to mainstream business based on ability and performance. In essence, and in retrospect, valuable seeds were being planted. We collectively determined that we could cross over based on agenda, funding and marketing. We all know that race is always a factor, but we didn’t necessarily have to carry the race flag. Upon appearance, race is automatically understood.
When Barack ran for Senate the very first meeting was held in the Reynolds home and the initial dollars came from individuals in the ABLE group. Reverend Jesse Jackson attended and shared the wisdom of the contribution and talked about the possibility of our political horizion.Sounds good to me. I think it's about time that black business step up to the plate. As a matter of fact ABLE has been forward in the debate in Illinois over the gross receipt tax being opposed to that proposal which was battered down good in the Illinois House of Reps. It's a good thing that Sen. Obama is looking at black business. Here's more...
A newer generation was saying Black business people should step up to the plate and support candidates rather than having the traditional Black clergy forward alone. Barack agreed and challenged us to back him. We did. We discussed business opportunities, challenges and strategies that could affect us all. Barack is well steeped, attentively listening to our business philosophies, thoughts and ideas. He heard business frustrations, opportunities, government slow pay, government rules sometimes in place but not necessarily followed. He listened. Barack still meets with the core of this group. It keeps him grounded and informed. He bounces to this group because we still speak openly and honestly. He has come back home, even at critical points in his national career, so to speak. After he won the senate, before he took the presidential challenge, and at key points in the campaign. What is important to know is that he always listens. He listens to the civil rights past. He listens to success. He listens to failure. He incorporates it into his own intellectual configuration and he’s genuinely concerned.
Before running for President, Barack met with some members of ABLE to again listen to business thoughts and he told us that he would make a decision on running for the highest office in the land during his Christmas vacation. Since then we have had conference calls to discuss business issues and the impact of decisions.
At this point, who will win the 2008 election is a pundit discussion. It is too soon to predict. But at this very moment, the gentleman from Illinois, Barack Obama has a real shot at the White House. He is playing a masterful political game. Raising the money, he has crossed-over in his appeal, showing coalition politics at its best, and most importantly he has stimulated youth by getting them involved with the voting and the political process. Our youth is America’s most apathetic; it is quite major that he has excited them with a breath of fresh air. The entire country has not been so excited over a candidate since John F. Kennedy.Well I would disagree with what she says about the Clintons but crossover appeal is going to sound interesting. Let's see if Obama can make that happen.
The Black community at large is challenged by Barack’s candidacy. The Clintons are very much apart of Black America’s civil rights landscape, and Hillary Clinton does not come as brand new. The Clintons come experienced, seasoned and proven. The Clinton presidency delivered to Black America much of what he promised. He appointed Blacks to positions based on performance and not window dressing. This is a major historical point not to be forgotten. And now political circles are whispering Gore’s name. If he enters the race everything will change. He is a proven winner and was cheated out of the current presidential seat.
Barack will be a powerful player in America’s new politic no matter what. One of his major contributions is to crossover Black businesses. That is, to have America look at Black business just as it is looking at him as a political candidate. That is, to look at performance, ability and market share rather than race. The Barack touch is to make Black enterprise a part of America’s mainstream. This will be a milestone to America’s equality, and it is as impactful as Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation and as important as President Lyndon B, Johnson signature on the Civil Rights Bill.