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Cash And Carry
I n early February, a headline in the Sun Myung Moon-owned Washington Times read “Bush continues outreach to blacks.” Bill Sammon reported that President Bush had met in the White House with hundreds of “black leaders” and told them that his policies “would help black Americans.” According to Sammon, “The president’s 15-minute speech in the East Room was interrupted 17 times by applause from an audience that included black clergy, veterans, business leaders and members of Congress. Among those in attendance were Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
This latest meeting with black leaders is part of an aggressive strategy by the Republican Party aimed at African American churches and, through them, black voters, the Democrat’s most loyal constituency.
In the 2004 presidential election, the GOP made a slight gain in the number of blacks voting for Bush—up from 9 percent to 11 percent of black votes, according to exit polls. They did even better in the critical swing states of Florida and Ohio. In Florida, Bush’s support among African Americans in November rose 6 percentage points to 13 percent, and in Ohio, Bush may have won as much as 16 percent of the black vote.
For the past two decades, GOP leadership concentrated on building a solid cadre of black conservative organizations and media personalities that could be counted on to support its agenda. Since the beginning of the Bush presidency, the emphasis has gradually added courting black churches to its arsenal. This is being accomplished in no small part through the handing out of millions of dollars in faith-based grants to African American churches.
On February 1, Los Angeles Times staff writers Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten reported on a meeting of more than 100 African American ministers that were to gather at the Crenshaw Christian Center, one of Los Angeles’ biggest black churches, headed by tel- evangelist Frederick K. C. Price. The goal of the confab was “to build support for banning same- sex marriage—a signature issue that drew socially conservative blacks to the Republican column last year.” Abortion and school vouchers are also of special interest to conservative blacks.
Hamburger and Wallsten’s piece, entitled “GOP Sees a Future in Black Churches: Social issues are binding the party with a group once firmly in the Democratic camp,” reported that Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Maryland and a registered Democrat, would unveil a “Black Contract With America on Moral Values...a call for Bible-based action by government and churches to promote conservative priorities.” The Black Contract is “patterned loosely” on then House Speaker Newt Ging- rich’s “Contract With America” that he introduced 10 years ago “to inaugurate an era of GOP dom- inance in Congress.”
According to the Pasadena Star News , Bishop Jackson’s “Contract” includes “protecting traditional marriage, prison reform, creating wealth for minorities, and providing healthcare for the poor.” The High Impact Leadership Coalition, which was introduced at the Los Angeles meeting, has scheduled six more conferences throughout the country this year.
The Los Angeles meeting was co-sponsored by the Rev. Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition (www.traditionalvalues.org), a Christian right network of churches with close ties to the White House, RNC chair Ken Mehlman, and other senior Bush administration officials.
In late February, another group with ties to Gingrich will gather in Washington to announce a “Mayflower Compact for Black America.” This group plans to organize in key states ahead of the 2006 and 2008 elections. Vivian Berryhill, a longtime Mississippi Republican and president of the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses (www.pastor spouses.com), is one of the leaders of the Mayflower Compact effort.
Hamburger and Wallsten also reported that the Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org), a Washington, DC-based conservative think tank, “will cosponsor a gathering of black conservatives in Washington designed to counter dominance of the ‘America-hating black liberal leadership’ and to focus African American voters on moral issues.”
The meeting at the Heritage Foundation is being organized by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson of Los Angeles, the founder and president of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny (www. bondinfo.org), whose purpose, according to its website is “Rebuilding the Family By Rebuilding the Man.” Rev. Peterson is a longtime critic of the civil rights leadership in general, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson in particular. Rev. Peterson, the author of SCAM: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America , has been a regular guest on the Fox News Channel and other cable news networks. BOND’s board of advisors includes the well known conservative economist Walter E. Williams, Dennis Prager, the right-wing radio talk show host, and Sean Hannity, Fox’s television personality.
Rev. Peterson said that the conference would be aimed at disabusing blacks of the notion that racism is the cause of their economic and social problems and that they should begin taking personal responsibility.
“I saw black preachers turning toward the Republicans in greater numbers this election,” Rev. Peterson told the Los Angeles Times . “I don’t know if it’s because they believe in it or they want some of the faith-based money. Whatever the reason, they are turning; and as a result of the preachers leaving, many of the congregations are following.”
After months of investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported in January that out of the more than $1.5 billion in federal funds handed out to faith-based organizations in 2003 African American churches had received many millions of dollars. Many African American church leaders had subsequently switched party affiliation in time for the 2004 presidential election.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for example, Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, one of the “city’s most prominent black pastors,” who supported both Bill Clinton and Al Gore in past presidential elections, switched to Bush. His “face appeared on Republican Party fliers in the battleground state of Wisconsin,” and he endorsed President Bush “as the candidate who ‘shares our views.’” Two weeks before the election Bishop Daniels “turned over the pulpit to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, one of Bush’s most prominent African American advocates.”
“We know what faith-based can do every single day,” Steele told the congregation, drawing head nodding and remarks of “yes” and “Amen” from more than 1,000 in the vast sanctuary.
The Times also reported that Bishop Daniels met “with top administration officials” and also met with “the president himself.” Later, his church received $1.5 million in federal funds through Bush’s faith-based initiative.
“A Philadelphia church led by Rev. Herb Lusk II received $1 million in federal funds for a program to help low-income Philadelphians,” The Los Angeles Time s reported. “Lusk gave the invocation at the 2000 Republican convention and has been an outspoken Bush supporter.”
In South Florida, there is an organization headed by Bishop Harold Ray, “a longtime Bush acquaintance who gave an invocation for Vice President Dick Cheney at a West Palm Beach, Florida rally. Ray’s group received $1.7 million in taxpayer funds.”
Los Angeles Times reporters Wallsten, Hamburger, and Nicholas Riccardi pointed out, “The money that flowed to Daniels’s church was part of a broader effort inspired by Bush’s contention that religious groups can do a better job than government in providing such services as counseling, education and drug treatment….
“The White House adamantly denies that the faith initiative is a political tool. But the program has provoked criticism that the GOP is seeking to influence new supporters, especially African Americans, with taxpayer funds. Rev. Timothy McDonald of Atlanta, a prominent black minister with Democratic ties, dubbed the program an ‘attempt to identify new leadership in the black community and use the money to prop these people up.’
“There’s no question that the faith initiative—combined with the Administration’s support for banning gay marriage and promoting school vouchers—has already helped reshape Bush’s image among some traditionally Democratic African Americans. And the change in black support on Nov. 2, though only a two percentage point increase nationwide, helped secure Bush’s reelection victory. The gains were greater in battleground states.”
“We’re committed to continuing to grow that percentage [of the black vote], and we recognize that it’s going to require a long investment,” said Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman, who the previous evening kicked off his own outreach meetings with black leaders. “I strongly believe that if we lay out our policies and lay out our vision, that we have a tremendous opportunity,” he said.
Despite the vast amounts of money involved, it won’t be smooth sailing for Team Bush. The Black Commentator recently reported on the meeting of 10,000 delegates from four Black Baptist denominations that was held in Nashville, Tennessee in January: “Representing 15 million members, the four denominations’ presidents agreed to move towards a common agenda dramatically opposed to the Republican administration—and fully in line with the Black Consensus.” According to the Chicago Tribune , the Black Baptists “…declared their opposition to the war in Iraq and to the nomination and expected confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general.”
The Baptists “also called for a higher minimum wage, discontinuation of recent tax cuts, investment in public education and reauthori- zation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, some provisions of which are up for review in 2007…[and they] demanded that Bush stop privatization of prison construction, reinvest in children’s health insurance and increase global relief for black nations such as Sudan and Haiti.”
Lionel Leach, the Director of the NAACP National Voter Fund- NJ, and a member of Help America Vote, told the Black Commentator , “New Jersey has the most voter suppression in the country,” and the GOP has “done everything possible to suppress the Black and Latino vote.”
The GOP strategy is “not to convert legions of Blacks to the GOP, which would seriously dilute the party’s white appeal and is, at any rate, an impossibility. The Right’s real goal is to create the impression of fundamental splits in Black ranks and thus subvert the credibility of mainstream leaders who hold to the historical Black Political Consensus. Everywhere, there exist Black preachers and hustlers who are willing to advance the GOP project. Money does the trick. Marginal increases in Black votes for Republicans are welcome, especially in close races, but this is not a battle for the hearts and minds of Black America. Rather, it is an assault on the historical unity of African Americans.”
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.