Sunday, February 10, 2008


Barack Obama is not the first black to seek the presidency, although he is arguably the first African American to bring a message that some view as transcending race when comparing him to the previous black contenders.

It was Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn who first sought the presidency in 1972. Chisholm won 152 delegates on a liberal platform, which earned her an ethnically diverse support base. She would lose the Democratic nomination, however, to George McGovern. But he, too, was out of step with a country that was moving to the right. McGovern’s liberal message would ultimately clash with the conservative political climate sweeping the nation resulting in Richard Nixon winning the presidency in a landslide that November.

Rev. Jesse Jackson was next. He sought the Democratic nomination in both 1984 and 1988. Jackson surprised the electorate by finishing third in 1984 behind Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart, and winning five primaries. In 1988, Jackson stunned skeptics even more when he won 11 primaries before losing to the eventual nominee, Michael Dukakis.

Jackson's improvement in 1988 is largely attributable to increased support from black voters; he was able to unify the black vote that was split in 1984 between himself and Mondale—earning 90% of the black vote in '88. "I found what I call the common ground issues that connect with people—the racial battle ground, the economic common ground, the moral higher ground," says Jackson of his ability to address the similar concerns of rural white farmers and blacks in urban centers in '88. More from the Black Enterprise>>>>

See youtube clips below.

Shirley Chisolm 1972

Jesse Jackson 1984

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