Black Politicians and the Run for Presidency

“Whenever the occupant in the White House fails to respond to the just demands of human need, the independent army will bring their concerns to the Black House to their President-in-Exile”- Dick Gregory. With our recent discussions on Black politics, it’s important to note Black pioneers that ran for the presidential candidacy. Before Obama, there have been many other Black individuals that have tried run for president of the United States. Such individuals are Black Panther leader Elderidge Cleaver, former leader of the all-Black freedom Now Party Paul Boutelle, and Black feminist and labor organizer Charlene Mitchell. With the shift in the Black voting patterns during the 1968 elections from Republican to Democrat it become more apparent Blacks needed representation and wanted Black politicians that represented their needs. At the Democratic Convention 1968, Channing E. Phillips, a Black minister and civil rights leader, became the first African American to be nominated for president of the United States.

Even though there were Black politicians that stated they were for the Black community within the Democratic Party, many within the Black community were unhappy with the progress made by the two-party system. Many noticed that Black elected officials had limited ways in which they could alter the political atmosphere. On March 1969, comedian Dick Gregory took a stand to tackle issues such as ending the Vietnam War, bad housing, education and discrimination within the Black community. Gregory toured the country, focusing on college campuses and local events within the Black communities to promote his campaign of becoming the first black president.

Avoiding the limited conditions set by the two-party system, Gregory, Mitchell, Cleaver and Boulle instead became part of minority party presidential campaigns that catered to the needs and wants within the Black community. The campaigns of these four individuals led the trail for what they believed a Black presidency and Black freedom may look like.

2 Replies to “Black Politicians and the Run for Presidency”

  1. I appreciate this post because we do not often consider what failures need to take place before a major success occurs. In this instance, I am referring to Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign. Before him, there were several black candidates who also ran for President but failed. However, it is significant that they even attempted because it broke down barriers and laid the foundation for later candidates. Without people like Elderidge Cleaver or Channing E. Phillips, who were not afraid of failure, we may not have already had our first black president.
    In other matters pertaining to racial disparities, it is important that we remain patient. We must use our voices and trust that our movements will make a change, regardless of whether that change is immediately seen. I agree that it is a shame that blacks in this country must wait so long to finally gain equality in the eyes of the majority. Though, I also believe that we are not given much of an option. Until the day we do gain equality, people like Cleaver and Phillips must continue to step forward.

  2. Good post, Adebola. There were previous precedents for the presidency, but despite the attraction of the third party how likely is it for them to win? Also, what about the roles of “movement” politics?

    Douglass, isn’t the goal to provide more resources to those you govern? If so, was electing Obama as president really a success? If so, for whom?

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