August 8th, 2012
It’s time the Black Press got credit from Obama
By Walter Smith,
publisher New York Beacon
The world applauded when Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States in 2008. People of color the world over were ecstatic over having someone they could relate to as the leader of the richest and most powerful country in the world. Heads of States of foreign countries who were at odds with the US felt relieved when Obama suggested that they stop fighting and start talking.
He inspired hope in the repressed, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, and the poor. The word was, “I never thought I would live to see the day a Black man would be elected President of the United States.”
The cause for rejoicing was things would be different for people of color. A person of color was in charge of the Justice Department of the United States. Young people were inspired to look to higher heights. They knew that if they only applied themselves that anything was possible. All glass ceilings were broken and there was no limit to personal growth.
His initial campaign prompted every African American newspaper in the country to promote his candidacy pro bono through the pages of their publications. Publishers of the Black Press were encouraged primarily because for years they had tried to get advertising from the Federal Government with no success.
Presidential campaigns meant millions of dollars of income for newspapers and other media outlets. The Black Press usually got less than 1 hundredth of 1% of this windfall.
In 2008, the presidential elections cost a record-setting $2.8 billion. To win that election, Barack Obama spent $740.6 million. He spent approximately $1 million with the Black Press. The expense for the current presidential race will exceed $5 billion with nearly $3 billion being spent between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association is composed of a group of middle class entrepreneurs. That same group, founded in 1827 by John Russwurm initiated the growth and recognition of the talents and contributions of African Americans to the US.
In spite of the lack of advertising revenue, the Black Press has been there for all who needed to be positively profiled, protected, and promoted for whatever position in life they were aspiring to. Had there been no Black Press of America, there would be no Barack Obama in the White House.
Barack Obama won the popular vote in 2008 by 4 percentages points. 52% for the Democrats and 48% for the Republicans. The Electoral Vote was a different story.
However, if that popular vote can be reversed coupled with implementation of the voter ID requirements which will eliminate over 20 million voters from the polls with a majority of them African American, Obama can lose. The Republicans are working hard to reduce Obama’s voting base. Voter ID laws have been introduced in all except 9 states.
In the first four months of 2012, election supervisors in Florida removed nearly 7,000 voters from the rolls. Democrat: 3,550 (51.20 percent) Republican: 1,206 (17.39 percent).
TV ads cannot address these issues to Obama’s base, only the Black Press and the Black church can. If our President is serious about winning this election, he should consider the proposal presented to the OFA campaign by NNPA’s Chairman, Clovis Campbell.
Obama’s current advisors on the Black vote and the Black Press are no different today than they were in 1976 with Jimmy Carter, or in 1980, or 1984 or 1992, or 1996, or 2008. Tokenism is all they knew then and tokenism is all the current advisors know now.
The Black Press needs to be recognized for the work they have done and invited to participate in the economic windfall associated with presidential elections especially when a Black candidate is running.