Billy Dee Williams says, “There can only be one black spokesman”

Aug 2nd, 2008 | By | Category: Social

In an appearance in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Illinois Democrat’s address was interrupted when several young black males stood up, hoisted a banner that read, “What about the black community, Obama?” and began peppering the Senator for not focusing on their concerns.

Obama told them they would have time to ask questions after the speech was over, and they did. They asked why he was not focusing on issues like the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Jena Six, Sean Bell and “the numerous attacks that are made against the African-American community.” Obama responded twofold: telling the hecklers that he had, in fact, been focused on these issues and explaining that there would never be 100% continuity between his agenda and that of the voters.

“Listen, I was a civil rights lawyer,” Obama said. “I passed the first racial profiling legislation in Illinois. I passed some of the toughest death penalty reform legislation in Illinois. That doesn’t mean I am always going to satisfy the way you want these issues framed… which gives you the option of voting for somebody else, it gives you the option of running for office yourself, those are all options. But the one thing I think is important is, that we are respectful towards each other.”

It is rare for Obama to be heckled in a political forum, but it’s not terribly surprising that the protest came from a fellow African-American. Moments after he took the man’s question, a nearby African-American woman yelled at Obama again. The Senator has trod a thin line on the racial components of this campaign. Witness the uproar over accusations — made by John McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis — that he played the race card. And his posture as a post-racial candidate has struck some as discourteous (see: Jesse Jackson). Still, the idea that Obama will get anything short of an overwhelming portion of the black vote seems far-fetched.

Obama Heckled For Not Focusing On Black Issues:

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