Bintel Blog

Obama at the Million Man March

By Daniel Treiman

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A few right-wing bloggers have begun buzzing over a 1995 Chicago Reader profile of Barack Obama in which the then Illinois State Senate candidate discussed his participation in the controversial Million Man March, convened by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The 1995 march drew hundreds of thousands of black men to the National Mall in Washington — and caused a degree of consternation in the Jewish community. The Anti-Defamation League, while expressing support for the march’s goals, took out newspaper ads in advance of the gathering, saying it would be “the largest event led by an anti-Semite in recent American history.” Nevertheless, many prominent black leaders participated in the march, and it was endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus (although the NAACP withheld its endorsement).

The Chicago Reader profile of Obama, which is now linked to on the alternative weekly’s home page, notes that the then-aspiring politico “took time off from attending campaign coffees” to attend the 1995 march:

“What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society,” [Obama] said. “There was a profound sense that African-American men were ready to make a commitment to bring about change in our communities and lives.

“But what was lacking among march organizers was a positive agenda, a coherent agenda for change. Without this agenda a lot of this energy is going to dissipate. Just as holding hands and singing ‘We shall overcome’ is not going to do it, exhorting youth to have pride in their race, give up drugs and crime, is not going to do it if we can’t find jobs and futures for the 50 percent of black youth who are unemployed, underemployed, and full of bitterness and rage.[“]

The (old) news about Obama’s participation in the march is resurfacing as the Illinois senator attempts to move beyond the controversy over the inflammatory rhetoric of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright (an admirer of Farrakhan). Ironically, however, the Chicago Reader article actually provides some support for one of the claims that Obama has made while trying to address Jewish anxieties about his candidacy — namely, that he has a record of speaking out against antisemitism in the black community (a point he made in response to a recent televised debate question about Farrakhan).

Indeed, way back in 1995, the young Obama told the Chicago Reader:

”…Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn’t care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing.”

“But cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done. Anti-Semitic and anti-Asian statements are not going to lift us up….”

Read the full Chicago Reader profile here.

LoveTruth Sun. Apr 13, 2008

What is the story?

Myah Fri. Apr 18, 2008

Obamanation of Desolation is coming when you here of these rumors be righteous your Messiah ben YHVH is near.

Henry M. Williams, Jr. Thu. Nov 6, 2008

It seems that smear merchants like Hannity & Limbaugh only seek any slice of controversy, and leave out any possible good. I guess they call it ratings. The truth is not always easy for a radio host to proclaim. In this case, the untruths, deceptions, and politically motivated statements by Hannity and Limbaugh divide our nation more than they could ever bring it together. Hannity is not a great American. He is a overpaid fraud that panders to the fear and hate that is deeply rooted into 1800's American thinking. Limbaugh is a racist. His comments about Colin Powell prove it. Obama has prevailed because he is not afraid of the truth. Reverend Wright, Al Sharpton, Reverend Jessie Jackson, and even Louis Farrakhan need to have the sense to recognize the political motivation behind the rhetoric, and respond with a voice of unity for all Americans. You have all fought your whole lives for the rights of your culture, now is the time to fight for the rights for all of the citizens of your country. Be the difference. Yes you can.

Sam Mon. Nov 10, 2008

It is very disturbing that 78% of Jews voted for B. Hussein Osama. Shame. They will regret their choice. BTW, I voted for McCain; as a Jew, I don't need black men to feel like a man.

kmb Tue. Dec 2, 2008

"I don't need black men to feel like a man". Ignorant statement. Black men (and women) don't want to continue to be oppressed economically and mentally enslaved. As for Ashkenazi (European) Jews, they need to seek guidance from the "real Jews"--the Falashi(Ethiopian)Jews.

dale m siegel Thu. Nov 19, 2009

sorry i am late to the party,but i told all my fellow jews who would listen that BHO was bad for jews,israel and ntl sctry in general.with friends like wright,ayers,khalidi,etc how could any sane jew have voted for him!you dem loving lbrljws support isrl by word of mouth only!BHO conting 2 tell jews to stop bldng stlmts in wstbnk&ejrlsm does not make sense afterall arabmslms live evrwhr inside pre1967 brdrs!his failure 2 call the ft hood WRAGWEARINGMUSLIM a terrorist shows his loyalty 2 islam!I READ POLITICALLY CONSERVATIVE JEWISH PUBLICATIONS & NOT LIBERAL SLOP LIKE YOUR PEDDLING!WHAT IS SAD IS WE(ALL JEWS)WILL ALL BE SORRY THIS MAN WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT!i am the only 1 in my imedte fmly who had enuf snse 2 vote 4 mccain!

Todd Puglisi Sun. Nov 22, 2009

Well, as I've always asked, what would happen if Barack Obama was a white man? Would he be a rascist? We know what the answer would be! Look how many Jews and Catholics have been labeled as rascists, haven't they been discriminated against as well. I happen to be a Catholic. I'll never forget a friend of mine who asked, "What would happen if there was a Congressional White Caucus or even a Congressional Jewish Caucus?" We all know the answer to that! You can see why I can't stand Barack Obama!

dale m siegel Tue. Dec 1, 2009

I made a second comment that was more critical of Barack HUSSEIN Obama than my first and it has been removed. Whomever edits this post needs to eml me with an explanation. Are we not allowed to talk bad about this false profit! I said nothing vulgar or rascist.

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