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Democrats Working For African American Vote

T-shirts for sale in downtown Charlotte during the DNC
Leoneda Inge

President Barack Obama is preparing to address the nation tonight and make his plea for “Four More Years.”  In 2008 – many analysts say it was the African American vote that put the president over the top in battleground states like North Carolina.  But is this constituency as “fired up” and “ready to go” in 2012?  Leoneda Inge reports from the Democratic convention in Charlotte.

Leoneda Inge:  First Lady Michelle Obama walked into yesterday’s African American Caucus meeting with a purpose.  She wanted delegates and volunteers to know she and her husband – The President – needed their help.

Michelle Obama:  We don’t have a single minute to waste, you know, not a single minute.  We are going to need all of you to get out there and work like you have never worked before.

Mrs. Obama’s soft-spoken cadence suddenly picked up steam when she made a special plea to the folks representing Florida – where President Obama won by only 236-thousand votes.

Michelle Obama:  And if you think that’s close, don’t forget that we won North Carolina (cheers) by just 14-thousand votes.  Now that’s just five votes per precinct. That’s right - five people!

Marvin Bias of Charlotte was in the room when Mrs. Obama made her plea. He wasn’t hard to miss in his bright red N-C State polo shirt.

Inge: Are you worried about the African American vote, if Blacks will come out?

Marvin Bias:  No. I know what the media says but I’m at the lowest level, at the grassroots of this campaign. I’m in neighborhoods where people don’t want to go. You would be surprised how many young people who can vote are ready to vote. What I hear most is I‘m ready to vote today.  I hear that a lot!

But there are two issues that could affect the African American vote for the president – the country’s high unemployment rate and Mr. Obama’s support for same-sex marriage.  Here’s a radio ad that’s currently getting heavy air-play on predominantly African American radio stations in the Raleigh market.

Voice:  Pastor Patrick Wooden.

Patrick Wooden:  African Americans proudly celebrated Barack Obama’s historic election as president in 2008.   It was the African American community that helped him win here in North Carolina.  But President Obama has turned his back on the values of our community with his strong endorsement of the homosexual movement.

The ad was paid for by the National Organization for Marriage.

Patrick Wooden:  Join me in saying no more to President Obama!

Scott Keeter is the director of Survey Research for the Pew Research Center. He’s spent years tracking America’s growing support for same-sex marriage. But support in the south lags far behind the nation – and Keeter says African Americans in the south are even more conservative.

Scott Keeter:  You know, we’ve seen a debate going on for a long time that says that while blacks continue to be very strongly supportive of the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates there are relatively high levels of religiosity and their social conservatism provides the Republicans with opportunities to pick them off and get votes from them.

But Keeter says Pew Research hasn’t seen any evidence that this conservatism has affected black support for President Obama.  Meanwhile, the Reverend Jesse Jackson has been telling delegates in Charlotte that North Carolina has more than 500-thousand un-registered African American voters. And yesterday, the national NAACP announced a new partnership with major African American Baptist conventions to help register voters in time for the November election.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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