White Writer Predicts Obama Victory
In 1967, America was filled with the same hope of change that it is now feeling in 2008. Forty-one years ago, Cleveland was on the verge of electing the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city.
Author B. Kenneth McGee was front and center during this historic movement, working as Carl Stokes’ operations manager and official “White” aide, showing skeptics in the White and Black community and other African Americans in politics that he had multi-racial support.
Stokes was a living testament of what African Americans in politics could achieve after the victories of the Civil Rights Movement, and his imminent victory was proof that America could come together despite racial and political differences.
Two years earlier, Stokes had almost won in a city that was 70 percent White and 30 percent Black.
“In 1965 he had come so close to winning that there was a recount,” McGee said. “His victory in ’67 was hailed as one of the greatest moments in the civil rights struggle and also a triumph of the brotherhood of man.”
However, just like Barack Obama, Stokes had to overcome the same doubt from other African Americans in politics and from within the Black community that he was not ready, it was not the right time and he may face assassination because some were not ready to accept progress. Like today, many African Americans in politics had ties to the White political establishment and campaigned against Stokes as many like congressional leaders John Lewis (D-GA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) actively campaigned against Obama.
But unlike Stokes, Obama has enjoyed large support among White voters, something that eluded his predecessor.
“The White support for Obama is huge compared to the White support for Stokes forty years ago. Who would have dreamed then that a Black man running for the President of the United States could garner such White support, attract such crowds, and be so close to winning,” said McGee. “When I see campaign crowds, I see a sea of White faces cheering him and I see a much different time than that of 1965 and 1967.”
Forty years ago, African Americans in politics could only hope to achieve local political success. Forty years later, America has changed.
McGee recalled, a young African American boy running behind Stokes’ motorcade, mesmerized at the thought of a Black mayor. “He’s colored, he’s colored,” the young boy cried out, realizing that America was on the verge of history.
Fast forward to 2008, and America is on the verge of making bigger history. Previous African Americans in politics laid the groundwork for Obama’s historic presidential run, and McGee believes it will be African Americans that get him over the hump.
“Will the Black community support Obama as…Irish Catholics did for John Kennedy in 1960…as every ethnic group has done for their history making candidates since the country began,” McGee asks. “It is the Black vote that can insure victory for Barack Obama. This is the year. This is the time. This is history in the making. The face of the United States of America is about to change.”
Cornelius is a writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.