Is the Democratic Party taking the Black vote for granted? No way, say local party officials.
“The Clintons have never taken the Black vote for granted,” stated Minnesota DFL Committee Chair Ken Martin on former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic president candidate. “They are connected with the community and always understood the relationship between elected officials, African Americans and Latinos and other underrepresented communities.
“The DFL in Minnesota is going to work hard to get the votes,” stressed Martin, “regardless of where they come from.”
Award-winning actress Lynn Whitfield, during her visit to the Cities this past weekend, reiterated to the MSR that Hillary Clinton isn’t taking the Black vote lightly at all. “I was sent here by the Hillary Clinton campaign, and I was sent here specifically to the African American community and constituency,” she pointed out. “I don’t see Secretary Clinton at this point taking anyone for granted.
“Hillary will fight for women, for equal pay, and for lowering taxes on working folks and middle-class families. We need to make sure we get out every volunteer, register every voter we can, and get out the vote when it counts,” declared Whitfield Sunday afternoon in State Senator Bobby Joe Champion’s packed backyard.
“I’ve had a touching trip, but I’ve been affected by the people that I encounter,” said Whitfield. Her visit August 13-14 also included appearances at the Little Africa Festival in St. Paul, two Black churches during their Sunday services, and meeting with local and state candidates. “I slipped out of my very high [heeled] shoes and church dress and put on some barbecue clothes and came to Senator Champion for a real community backyard barbecue of like-minded people,” quipped Whitfield after her rally-like remarks.
Prior to speaking with community members at the barbeque at Sen. Champion’s home, the actress had “a very colorful interview” on a KMOJ radio program where, according to Whitfield, the host “let me speak my whole political mind.” Then, in separate interviews, she spoke with a member of each of the two local Black newspapers.
“The Black radio and the Black press are the tom-tom of our messages,” noted Whitfield.
When asked to comment on Clinton’s trustworthiness, a subject raised by Black and Latino journalists during the candidate’s August 5 appearance at a joint convention in Washington, D.C., Whitfield told the MSR, “Personally I…trust a strong work ethic. What we need is somebody who is continuing things from Barack Obama’s presidency and to improve upon things and initiate new platforms that will make our country better.”
“We need practical, pragmatic, flat-footed leadership, wisdom,” said Whitfield. We need someone “who can handle any emergency.” The race for president “is crazy right now. We have the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, or we can get on board and make sure” and vote for Clinton this November, she said.
“Being a very sensible woman, and looking at everything, I know that Hillary Clinton is prepared to take the reins and continue to improve,” Whitfield said.
Regarding Clinton, Sen. Champion said, “I don’t think she is taking the Black vote for granted. I think she has been very intentional in talking about the issues that are important to us.”
But voters can’t take their voice for granted either, said Whitfield. “It is up to us to not be taken for granted as African Americans. If we are not happy with how the schools in our neighborhoods are doing, we have to be open about that. If we want [Clinton] to keep working for equal pay, we have to be open about that. That’s why it is so important to vote for people who will be able to translate your needs in Washington, D.C. and at the state level.”
“We have to keep being heard,” continued Whitfield. “We need to formulate our ‘ask’ [our request or demand] — You want to be my president? You want to be my representative? Here is my ‘ask.’
“I know Minnesota went for [Sen. Bernie] Sanders, but because of what he contributed we now have a more progressive platform than we ever had before to move forward with,” said Whitfield, who added that Sanders’ primary candidacy ultimately made for a stronger Democratic general election platform.
“We’re stronger together than we are apart,” said Martin. “I’m sure there are differences, but we can respect those differences.”
“I am doing this because I threw my hat into the ring,” said Whitfield on her presidential campaign activism. “I want to be a part of the process. We can’t just sit at home or sit back on this one.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.