Yet on Wednesday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a foray into racial territory by speaking in New York at the Rev. Al Sharpton's national convention -- an early step on the tricky path that Obama must navigate in order to engage black voters who are crucial to his re-election.Just wonder how much of the Black vote he'll receive in 2012. Well I wonder if a significant number of Blacks would even consider voting Republican or any other party for that matter.
On the one hand, there's nothing unusual about a president fulfilling a campaign promise made to a staunch political ally whose radio show is broadcast in 40 cities each weekday. Nor is it odd for Obama, who has spoken to other civil rights groups, to connect with Sharpton, a frequent White House visitor whose fame flows from his aggressive brand of black advocacy.
Aside from the timing of Obama's speech -- two days after his re-election bid was made official -- Wednesday's events at the National Action Network gathering are heavily political. Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, is to address a special plenary, followed by the secretaries of education and housing, the attorney general and the EPA administrator.
Obama remains highly popular among blacks. In 2008, 95 percent of blacks who voted chose Obama. In a Gallup poll last week, 84 percent of blacks approved of Obama's overall performance, about the same percentage as six months ago.
So why all the attention now?
It's actually harder for Obama to reach out to black voters than it would be for a white president, said Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University, "because there's a narrative that he's catering to a black constituency."
"Obama needs Al Sharpton as a certain kind of surrogate for black voters," Neal said. "Symbolically, his willingness to speak at the convention is a subtle message to black voters that he is paying attention to their concerns.
"Because that's the other side of the narrative ... there is a heavy critique of Obama among black voters for not being cognizant and attentive enough to issues affecting the black community."
Via Booker Rising.