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“Black Leaders” Step Forward with a Black Agenda for Obama: Is It Serious?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

US News reported that a group of African American public figures spent four hours in a closed-door meeting and emerged with a “wish list” for President Barack Obama. The two being mentioned by the report are Urban League President Marc Morial and Rev. Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network.   I suspect that NAACP President Ben Jealous was also part of the gathering as well.

The black agenda is an oft-debated issue and a magical list that many people have always believed to not exist.   When I think about the black agenda, I am reminded of that age-old question:  “If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

This analogy fits because there are many inside the Obama Administration and in the African American community who have long felt that black people simply don’t know what they want from President Barack Obama.  They claim that no clear agenda has ever been presented to the president and that our interests are as scattered as pebbles on a windy beach. But the truth is that there has ALWAYS been a black agenda.  The problem is that no one was listening.

Even worse, those individuals designated as overseers to the black community, namely Al Sharpton, didn’t use their access to President Obama to aggressively push a black agenda.  Instead of giving the black community’s agenda to the president, Sharpton’s job was to give Valerie Jarrett’s agenda to black people.  Valerie Jarrett, a Senior Adviser to President Barack Obama, is one of the key people that I hold most personally responsible for the out of control black unemployment problem in America.  For the untold suffering of millions of black men, women and children, this woman can never be forgiven.

I am pleased to see  that Morial and Sharpton have responded to calls for more direct action from President Obama.   Morial, as I’ve mentioned before, has appeared to be sincere and balanced in his approach to dealing with the White House.  I won’t say much else about NAACP President Ben Jealous and Rev. Al Sharpton.  But I also find myself disappointed in those who’ve spent more time seeking to discredit Obama critic Cornel West than actually talking about the issues that they know to be serious problems in our community.  These distractions are costly, for nothing is getting done while people waste their time wondering if West is just angry about inauguration tickets.

Morial was quoted in the article as saying that “It’s important for us to come together.”

I couldn’t agree more.   The first step toward coming together would be the insistence by Jealous and Morial that Rev. Jesse Jackson be brought to the table when addressing President Obama.   While some of us get distracted by Jackson’s mistakes of the past, I only see a man who has spent 40 years using his powerful voice to speak to the issues that affect black and brown people across America.  His 40 years of service should not be discounted just because we’re happy about the guy we’ve had in the White House since 2008.   It is possible to love Barack Obama, Cornel West, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson at the same time, and the idea of drawing lines in the sand is one that is fabricated by those who know that black people are most easily conquered when you disperse their leadership into competing factions.

Those who argue that there has been no black agenda were simply determined to close their ears and shut off our brains.  For four years, Rev. Jackson, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. Wilmer Leon and a chorus of others have consistently cited massive black unemployment, poverty, urban violence, mass incarceration and educational inequality as the leading concerns of the African American community.  The problem is that because these individuals were seeking substantive, rather than symbolic commitment from the Obama Administration, they were never given a platform like MSNBC to share their point of view.  Televised liberal politics is nothing more than propaganda at its best, not much better than the nonsense fed to black people on networks like BET.

It’s time for the games to be over.  Politics must take a back seat to substance, and real leaders must be given a chance to address real issues.  I don’t mind Al Sharpton being at the table for negotiation, since Obama seems to like him enough to let him speak.  But by choosing a small group of people and making them the primary conduit through which the needs of 40 million people are communicated, self-interest can become the ultimate bottleneck.

It’s time for the White House to start taking us seriously.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

56 Responses to “Black Leaders” Step Forward with a Black Agenda for Obama: Is It Serious?

  1. Investissement

    April 25, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Une seul chose à dire Génial je revient[vous re-visite tout a l’heure.

  2. Earl Smith

    January 18, 2013 at 8:15 am

    This forum is the quiant-essential public debate about relevant issues & expressedd opinions. It should not be taken personal. Derrogatory attacks against Dr watkins, ,West,Mr Smiley and others is unhealty for all of us. We should all be gradified that the social media allows instant access to real time commentary. Being near 70 it is appauling that we can have such a powerful dialog. It is realtime and uncensored ffor he most part. Let us make the most of it while it last without being so accusatory.

  3. Michael L. Lofton

    December 25, 2012 at 2:12 am


    President Barack Obama, multiple members of the Congressional Black Caucus, other elected black leaders at the State and Local branches of government, U.S Supreme Court Clarence Thomas, etc., etc., have contempt for the sworn oath of office, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the United States of America.

    There are truly possible and legal ways to acquire assets from the affluent, a business owner, other individuals, private and public entities who or that violate the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, that could be used for the benefit of the disenfranchised, but this requires respect for the Constitution, the “oath of office”, the rule of law, and “tort practice expertise”

    ……qualities that the Harvard Graduate President Obama, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, multiple members of the Congressional Black Caucus, other elected black leaders at the State, County, and City jurisdictions of government, fail to uphold as mandated by law and sworn under oath as elected officials or public servants.

  4. Michael L. Lofton

    December 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Re: “Black Leaders” Step Forward with a Black Agenda for Obama: Is It Serious? by Dr. Boyce Watkins, yourblackworld(dot)com.

    If this conference of influential black leaders doesn’t include holding President Barack Obama, other elected black leaders or other elected officials accountable to the oath of office, the U.S. Constitution, a respective State Constitution, the “Bill of Rights”, Constitutional protections, then the influential black leaders and other individuals in attendance are wasting his or her valuable time. Upholding the sworn under oath duty to uphold the Constitution, a respective State Constitution, the “Bill of Rights”, especially the U.S.C., 14th Amendment, etc., etc., is the essence of what it means to be an elected official or public servant.

    Oath of Office: “I, (President, Supreme Court Justice, Congressperson, Assemblyman, Mayor, City Councilperson, Judge, etc. ), during such times as I hold the office, I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States (the Constitution of the State of California, Maryland, Illinois, etc., etc.), agai
    nst all enemies foreign (terrorist enemies of the U.S., illegal immigrants, un-American or un-Constitutional anything and everything, etc.) and domestic (treasonous individuals or organizations, any Police Chief who turns a blind eye to the actions of rogue police officers, unethical or criminal elected officials or public servants, illegal aliens or his or her advocates, un-American anything and everything), and that I will bear true faith and allegiance, to the Constitution of the United States , (State Constitution), and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.”…and voting should be based on how well an elected official upholds the “Oath of Office”, the Constitution and not party affiliation.

    This is where a dysfunctional black electorate are misguided, in that voting allegiance should not be entirely associated with political Party affiliation or influenced by any Reverend to deliver votes to any political party.

    Upholding the oath of office and Constitutional protecting the rights in behalf of law abiding U.S. citizens and legal immigrants being the primary duty of any and all elected officials or public servants.

    “A conversation between President Obama and the black community” Published on Jun 7, 2012 by drboycewatkins.

    Why The Black Caucus Looks The Other Way On Immigration-By Joe Guzzardi on May 9, 2003.

    If promoting the black agenda, “Black Leaders” Step Forward with a Black Agenda for Obama: Is It Serious?”, etc., etc., is not about holding all elected officials accountable to the “Oath of Office, the Constitution, the “Bill of Rights”, any State Constitution and it’s respective “Bill of Rights” then this meeting is just meaningless, so meaningless that the result will continue to be useless, a waste of time, all of which being business as usual……….decades long destructive Democratic and Republic Party policies of making U.S. born blacks “fodder for the system”, kicking U.S. born black men and women to the curb while President Obama, Clarence Thomas, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party, other elected officials at the State, County, and City branches of government serve illegal aliens from around the planet, at the expense of the rights of law abiding U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.

  5. Miss T

    December 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Why would anyone give anybody anything if you aren’t going to do anything to change your situation? Who is going to dump money into a community that has no clue as to which direction they are headed. Y’all must be crazy to think that the government is going support your trifling azz ways…food stamps, little check money to buy you a club outfit and tighten up your weave, and a medical card is all you fools get. In most cultures, education comes first. Hell y’all don’t even make sure your children graduate high school, much less go to school at all…then y’all ready to fight the teacher when they are more concerned for your child than you are. The government doesn’t even make the effort to see that you all have a quality education. Scrap buildings, scrap textbooks, scrap supplies and student teachers (scraps) to teach your children. Your sons are murderers and your daughters are whores because you aren’t there to parent…and they are out here wreaking havoc on society. What the hell do you want the government to do for you? Give you a billion dollars to do what with…give it to the preacher? What are Black folks priorities, who got what and how much? Grown azz men trying to be new jacks and rappers instead of fathers to their children…WTF? Fake azz gangstas. The only thing the government is going to do for you is send your Black azzez to jail. And y’all trying to ask the POTUS, I don’t care what color he is, for something. The only thing Black folks are good for is to making somebody else rich. Now for those of you who are accomplished and want to make a difference, then do so and stop all the talking about who isn’t doing what and do something to heal our/your community!

  6. Michael L. Lofton

    December 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    YouTube: “Interview with Terry Anderson, Part 1” Uploaded by crowdifornia on Jun 10, 2009.

    YouTube: “Interview with Terry Anderson, Part 2” Uploaded by crowdifornia on Jun 10, 2009.

    Why The Black Caucus Looks The Other Way On Immigration-By Joe Guzzardi on May 9, 2003.

    “Proposition 187”….and if you don’t think this is already happening or will happen, in other parts of the U.S. (Detroit MI, Newark NJ, Baltimore MD, Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago, Ill, Cleveland, OH, New Orleans, LA, etc., etc., etc.) presently predominated or formerly predominated by U.S. born blacks, don’t fool yourself, because the U.S. born black community is the weakest link for the influx of illegal immigrants from around the world (Mexico, Somalia, Kenya, Haiti, El Salvador, China, Jamaica, Nigeria, North Africa, the West Indies, Cuba, the China, Korea, etc., etc.,) and black America’s own misguided elected black leaders and some of the dysfunctional black middleclass are promoting this at the expense of the black community!

    ….illegal alien amnesty the “Dream Act” bill and “Taxation without Competent Representation” by President Barack Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Obama Administration, other elected officials affiliated with the Democratic and Republican political Parties, or other public servants…

    …….would indeed have a huge impact on negatively impacting the Constitutional rights and lawful right to work for untold numbers of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, U.S. born black men and women being inclusive.

  7. Michael L. Lofton

    December 5, 2012 at 11:56 am

    “Valerie Jarrett, a Senior Adviser to President Barack Obama, is one of the key people that I hold most personally responsible for the out of control black unemployment problem in America. For the untold suffering of millions of black men, women and children, this woman can never be forgiven.” by Dr. Boyce Watkins

    “Boyce Watkins, you really can’t be this stupid! This has got to be the most ridiculous statements I’ve heard. What does it say for a person’s mentality when they think that the Obama Administration is responsible for all the problems of Black people? Man, you’ve reduced the lack of education and connon-sense to a new low.” By James Alexander.

    President Barack Obama is the Chief Executive, which means he has the power and authority to fire, remove, anyone is his Administration proven to be incompetent, criminal, unethical, etc……..

    i.e………..the fault falls with President Obama for being a weak, spineless, incompetent, trusting, treasonous, worthless, “Magic Negro” and the worst President (CEO of the United States of America) this nation has ever had, bar none.

  8. Derrick

    December 5, 2012 at 6:41 am

    FVCK THESE CLOWNS!!! O’Drama ain’t gonna do a da*mn thing to help Black people. Those ancient negroids ain’t gonna do a da*mn thing, either because they are paid by this mulatto, and the government!

    Sharptongue had his glory 40 years ago, now it’s time for some fresh ‘meat’ to step up to the plate and ORANIZE and UNIFY Black amerikkka in a new direction. FVCK THIS NON-VIOLENT BULLSHYT, IT AIN’T GONNA WORK WITH THESE DEMONS. ARE THEY NON-VIOLENT TOWARD US? WAKE THE FVCK UP!!!

    None of these negroids mention the word BOYCOTT at any time, when they speak on our issues. Sharptongue can’t say too much because he is controlled by MSNBC. He is only allowed to keep negroids at the bottom of the ship singing, marching and begging these crackers for our rights.

    Negroids need to wake up, and get back to Black because we are dealing with the most viscious animals on this planet…caucasoids!!!

  9. Cottin

    December 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm


  10. Joe L

    December 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Dr. Boyce you have a problem because there is a cosmedic crew that pamper the president and they are out to make him look good and smell good,no matter what he does there are those that have a stove pipe vision, many black Americans, the media, Hollywood crooked Politicians that use the POTUS only to make money and keep power, so with this cosmedic crew at work it is hard to break thru this mentality of the reality that we need to hold the White accountable for some of the ills that have befell black Americans.

  11. Dannyboy

    December 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Well, Dr. Watkins, are you going to emulate Dr. Cornel West and get angry because you weren’t invited to the party? With the Republicans at President Obama’s throat and determined to, again, obstruct everything the President wants to do, the Susan Rice situation and the debt crisis, PLEASEJUST LEAVE HIM ALONE FOR NOW!! Give him a little breathing room UNLESS you are one of the Republicans!!

  12. Justice

    December 4, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Unfortunately, while African Americans over whelming supported President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 Election the realization is that he doesn’t have to do anything to address the issues and concerns of African Americans. Perhaps it will not blemish his legacy but President Obama’s failure to address the issues and concerns of African Americans may be the cause of him being the only and last African American male that African Americans trust to elect as President. Why would any community want a President in office in which they cannot address their issues or concerns simply because the President is the same race? Furthermore, he will lose the respect and love of the African American community and be considered as Cain who slew his own brother. These so called African American leaders have done a great injustice to the African American community in its request to look away simply because our President is black. Should we look away when and if we should have a Caucasian, Hispanic, or any other race in office? I think not!
    So let’s just pray that President Obama’s legacy be that he addressed the issues and concerns of ALL the American Communities rather than he did not address the issues or concerns of his own African American Community.