January 20, 2008
The Honorable John R. Edwards
410 Market Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Dear Senator Edwards:
It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father’s legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father’s legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.
I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are – a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.
You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don’t have lobbyists in Washington and they don’t get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.
I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.
From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.
I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.
So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.
Martin L. King, III
In The Audacity of Hope, Obama dog whistles to white voters and–dare I say it–puts down African American voters.
In his ponderous, power-worshipping and badly titled campaign book The Audacity of Hope (New York : Henry Crown, 2006), Obama ignored elementary U.S. social reality and soothed the master race by claiming that “what ails working- and middle-class blacks is not fundamentally different from what ails their white counterparts.” Equally calming to the white majority was the slavery reparations opponent Obama’s argument that “white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America” as “even the most fair-minded of whites…tend to push back against suggestions of racial victimization and race-based claims based on the history of racial discrimination in this country” (Obama 2006, p. 247).
We have an African American running for president who doesn’t seem to talk much about racism and doesn’t believe reparations are necessary. I don’t see how we can move forward until we fully admit the wrongs of the past, sincerely apologize and make amends. That is just BASIC, mental health 101.
I’ve seen other quotes from Obama’s book that strike me as demeaning to African Americans but, being a white woman, I may not be the best judge of African American issues. One such quote seemed to blame the high rate of poverty among African Americans on teenage pregnancies and completely disregards the MANY other factors that contribute to poverty among African Americans.
Obama further channeled Reagan by claiming that encouraging black girls to finish high school and stop having babies out of wedlock was “the single biggest thing that we could do to reduce inner-city poverty.”
I can only imagine what it might be like to be African American but using my imagination I think I would have to agree with Martin L. King, III and Jessie Jackson. I would cast my vote for the white man who is talking about the issues most important to black people. As a white woman, I do not feel compelled to vote for Hillary just because of gender identity but I know many women who do. If we want to create equality in the U.S. then shouldn’t we ignore gender and race in our choice for president?
If Jesse Jackson Sr. is to be believed, even Edwards (currently supported by just 2 percent of black Democrats in South Carolina ) is better than Obama on race. According to Jackson in the Chicago Sun Times last November, “the Democratic candidates – with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign – have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country”( Jesse Jackson, Sr., “Most Democratic Candidates Are Ignoring African Americans,” Chicago Sun Times , 27 November, 2007).