Making History: Obama or Clinton?

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Harlem resident: “Many Black people already assume their vote is not going to count; but we have to overcome that and realize there is strength in numbers.�

[Heard It On 125th Street]

Will this country elect a Black man first or a white woman as the torch bearer for the Democratic Party then as president?

Those are the questions The Black Star News posed during its regular informal survey and conversation with scores of Harlem residents on the neighborhood's most famous strip, 125th Street, last week.

Many Harlemites believe Barack Obama could be nominated and then elected before Hillary Clinton; yet as many express fears that low Black voter turnout will pave the way for a Clinton victory in the primaries.

Obama looks good and looks electable, says Bishop Webster. “Imagery and the energy surrounded by it is a force that spreads throughout the universe,” he says, noting that the scale is tipped in Obama’s favor in terms of presentability.

He contrasted Obama with retired general Colin Powell, who was widely distrusted in much of the Black community because of his close ties to President Bush; Webster refers to Senator Obama as “real” as opposed to Powell. “A circuit rider preacher was the slave who was told by the slave master to only preach certain things like ‘god is a white man’ to the other slaves and that is what Powell is like,” Webster says. “The circuit rider preacher mentality has only been upgraded amongst most Black politicians today and that is the last thing we need as a people to move forward.”

Ayana Courtney thinks Obama has a great chance over Clinton but wonders about the turnout next year. “I know that him being Black, he understands what Black people, especially those in the ‘hood have to go through on a regular basis,” she says. Yet, absent a high Black voter turnout, Clinton will prevail, she adds: “That is the main thing that I think would cause him to lose the election.”

Echoing Courtney’s concerns, Angel Real who says Black people are disillusioned by the corruption under the Bush Administration, believes low turnout will deliver the nomination to Clinton. “Many Black people already assume their vote is not going to count; but we have to overcome that and realize there is strength in numbers.” She adds that Black people’s disunity has always been the main problem.

Patricia Grant believes Obama will prevail over Clinton because he is seen as the candidate who can best reintroduce spirituality all across the United States. “They need a Black man because when they took prayer out of schools that was a big mistake—The greatest downfall of past nations was that they did not have a god-consciousness, and America will definitely fall if this mentality is not placed back into our society,” she says.

Jay, who declined to provide his last name, says Obama is in sort of a catch-22. He believes the only type of electable Black man is one who is “a puppet for the powers that be.” He adds: “If he is really doing the work of, and for, Black people then they will make sure he doesn’t even last his first four years.”

Fatou Camara, an immigrant from the Gambia, comes from a place used to Black presidents and says African Americans should rally behind the Illinois senator: “Black people just have to stand behind Obama and make sure that he wins simply because they just have to,” she says.

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