Bernard LaFayette, one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most trusted aides whom King appointed to serve as the national coordinator of the historic 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, the watershed event of the Civil Rights Movement, will be in Detroit Oct. 22 to keynote the release of the new book on President Barack Obama two weeks before the November mid-term elections at a symposium in the Wayne State University Law School auditorium, starting at 10 a.m.
The book, “Obama and Black Loyalty,” volume one of a trilogy on America’s first Black president, is authored by Bankole Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle, who had a series of sit-down interviews with Obama during the campaign.
LaFayette, who was on the cover of USA Today this year reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the lunch counter sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement, is the senior scholar-in-residence at the Chandler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. He worked with King as a key aide, serving as the national administrator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
The hardcover book, published by Global Mark Makers (globalmarkmakers.com) publishing group in Iowa, examines President Obama’s current relationship with Black America and how African Americans around the country are responding to his administration’s policies and his 2012 re-election prospects.
The interview-based book features African Americans from all walks of life, from 51-year-old Joya Shelton in California to 14-year-old Tiffany Agina in Virginia, referring to them as “community advocates” putting the Obama administration under the microscope on a range of issues that have long plagued the African-American community.
“Obama and Black Loyalty” is reputed to be the first book in the nation to exclusively look at the president and Black voters. Issues discussed include health care, education, Black youth training mentoring and development, state of the Black family, micro finance and poverty alleviation, Michelle Obama’s impact on Black women, and Black-owned businesses and disabilities.
“The Obama administration can design a public relations campaign encouraging Black Americans to support scholarly excellence and increase parent and community involvement. African Americans excel in sports and entertainment despite poverty because we practice sports and entertainment,” said Darleana McHenry in a chapter devoted to education and globalization.
On health care, an area in which the Obama administration claims victory, health care practitioner and nursing educator Shanita Michelle said the fear most African Americans have today about visiting the doctor comes from the Tuskegee experiment.
“Fear and mistrust were deeply associated with the Tuskegee experiment. Many people, especially African Americans, would be surprised to know that this experiment was not the sole proprietary of a ‘white government.’ There were several African-American institutions, doctors and nurses that participated in the experiment with full knowledge of what was taking place as well. So, President Obama would not necessarily dismiss the fear associated with what was truly an abuse of power and misinformation given to the subjects in question,” Michelle said in the book.
“Obama and Black Loyalty” also delves into Obama’s Africa policy. Alice Mukabane, a leader of the Kenyan community in Washington, reveals in the book that the White House rejected a request from a delegation of Kenyans living in the U.S. to visit Obama after his inauguration.
President Obama’s father is from Kenya, and since his election, questions have been raised about what possibilities (if any) his presidency holds for Africa.
Featured in the book from Michigan is Yusef Shakur, a reformed ex-convict, gang member and now a community leader talking in-depth about how President Obama should revamp the criminal justice system.
Shakur reveals that he will vote for Obama in 2012, but advised the President to engage the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency that sets federal sentencing guidelines.
“I never talked with a judge until he was sentencing me to prison, I never talked with a lawyer until he was helping me to go to prison. And I never talked with a doctor until he was treating me for a gunshot wound. That experience is still being recycled in African- American communities across this country,” Shakur said in the chapter devoted to the criminal justice system.
“One concrete way that President Obama can influence the criminal justice system is by becoming more involved with entities such as the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which establishes sentencing policies and practices in the federal system,”
Celebrated New York R&B and neo-soul recording artist Koleurz, who will be attending the release event, wrote a theme song for the book.
News of the book’s release is already gaining national and international attention with an invitation to Thompson to serve as a panelist at the Congressional Black Caucus “Advancing the Civil Rights Agenda” forum on Friday, Sept. 17, in Washington, DC.
Since Obama’s election, Thompson’s views on the intersection of Black media, race and the Obama presidency has been sought by graduate students across the country. Michael Cottman, who covers the Obama White House for BlackAmericaWeb.com, owned by media mogul Tom Joyner, did a national Black history profile this year on Thompson’s groundbreaking coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, calling him an innovative editor.
In 2003 as a visiting journalist with the Africa Faith and Justice Network in Washington, DC, Thompson directed the foreign policy organization’s lecture series on Third World issues, Africa in particular, at the Brookings Institute, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the National Press Club.
The two-part book launch includes an evening reception at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Detroit.
The event has the support of media partners like the Michigan Chronicle, Real Times Media, Rolling Out magazine, WDET-101.9FM and WADL TV 38.
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