This Saturday’s top CNN Story, Obama takes heat for skipping State of the Black Union.
This years State of the Black Union forum will play host to a number of famous names as it gets under way in New Orleans, but this year’s event is getting much more attention for who won’t be there, namely Barack Obama.
Senator Hillary Clinton, was the only major democratic presidential candidate to accept an invitation to attend, Barack Obama declined.
And it’s Obama’s absence that’s prompted both controversy and a backlash against Tavis Smiley, the organizer of the event who has openly criticized Obama’s decision.
In a letter to Smiley earlier this month, Obama commended the forum for addressing important issues, but explained he needed to focus on his presidential run ahead of the critical March 4 primaries.
Obama said, “In the final stretch, I will be on the campaign trail every day in states like Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin talking directly with voters about the causes that are at the heart of my campaign and the State of the Black Union forum.”
“That is why, with regret, I am not able to attend the forum.”
Smiley has been vocal about his disapproval of Obama’s decision.
“I think it’s a missed opportunity on Mr. Obama’s part,” Smiley told CNN. “Now, I am not interested in demonizing him for his choice, but I do disagree with it.”
Smiley said he picked New Orleans as the 2008 host city to highlight the continued plight of its residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“We owe it to them, those who survived, those who are still struggling to rebuild their lives,” Smiley said. “We owe it to them to raise these issues louder than ever.”
New Orleans continues to battle problems, including crime and lack of affordable housing. Entire communities still lack hospitals or emergency care.
Obama campaigned in the city before he easily won Louisiana’s Democratic primary on February 9, taking 57 percent of the vote.
But at least one Louisiana lawmaker praised Clinton for being there when the region needed help.
“I don’t support people just because they are black,” said Democratic state Rep. Juan LaFonta.
“I support people because they are qualified and committed to issues that affect my constituent base.”
Does anyone else think maybe Obama cares more about his campaign than the African American community? Maybe Obama should take a lesson from Hillary and put the interests of the people above himself and his campaign.
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