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The Black Vote: Lessons from History

recorded 2/15/08

1) 2:33 Radio Essay - short Mp3

2) 3:08 Radio Essay - long Mp3

The Black Vote: Lessons from History

[col. writ. 2/18/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

    Although Blacks constitute a distinct national minority, because they have traditionally been politically active, they have had a disproportionate impact on the electorate and election outcomes.

    Think of the squeaky-close presidential elections of 2000, which was decided by several hundred votes in Florida.  While it is true that both Blacks and Hispanics constitute distinct minorities, most have forgotten that 8% of Blacks, and 31% of Hispanics voted for George W. Bush.  And while Hispanics accounted for a mere 7% of the electorate that year, without a doubt their 31% vote for Bush contributed to his win, especially when one considers that in Florida, a significant percentage of Hispanics are Cuban-Americans, and thus they trend more conservative than say, Puerto-Ricans or Mexican-Americans.

    In a recent report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, we find that Blacks are far more politically active than commonly supposed.  This is particularly so of Black younger voters, who are often portrayed  as politically inactive or inattentive.  According to the Joint Center, this portrayal is false, for their reporting reveals a cohort that is increasingly engaged in electoral politics.  The report notes:

                    In 2000, African Americans between 18 and 29 accounted for 2.1 million votes, representing 2 percent of the voting total (105 million).  In 2004, young African Americans (18-29) accounted for 3.7 million votes, representing 3 percent of the voting total (122 million). Thus, in 2004, 1.6 million more young African Americans cast ballots than in 2000. [p.2]

    The joint Center for Political & Economic Studies has reported that Black voters, who remain overwhelmingly democratic, contributed winning perscentages in States where the Democratic candidate won.  the 2004 presidential race, for example, featured a 2-to-1 split in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.  The Joint Center reported:

                    Higher Black turnout contributed to John Kerry's narrow victories in Pennsylvania, where the black share of the statewide vote rose from 7 percent (in 2000) to 13 percent (in 2004, and in Michigan, where the black share rose from 11 to 13 percent. [.p2]

    In Ohio, the Center reports, Kerry lost, and the Black vote showed a far more modest growth.  Of course, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama throws much of the traditional statistical analysis on its head, for, although he may be a Black candidate, the vast majority of his votes comes from white, majority populations, something frankly quite unprecedented in electoral politics.

    No matter who becomes their party's nominee, and who ultimately runs in November, 2008, Black votes will undoubtedly prove pivotal.

    The question, what will they get for such votes --but more false hopes?

--(c) '08 maj

{Source: Bositis, David S., "The Black Vote in 2004," Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies (Wash., DC: JCP&ES, 2004).}

[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.]
===============================


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[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.] 

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

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