CBS News political analyst Jamal Simmons; Munson Steed, Rolling Out magazine publisher and director of the Madison Project in New York; Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Emory University professor of theology and one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s most trusted aides, who coordinated the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign; Joya Shelton, a California multimedia producer and Claude Similus, one of Haiti’s leading actors are among a list of national speakers in Detroit next week for the release of, “Obama and Black Loyalty” written by Chronicle editor Bankole Thompson.
The book will be released during a reception and town hall style conversation Oct. 22, 10 a.m. at Wayne State University Law School auditorium as Democrats face the specter of losing in the highly contested mid-term election.
A roster of national and local political observers, community advocates, business and political leaders will gather for the symposium examining the current impact of President Obama’s policies on African Americans on a wide range of issues, all of which form the central focus of Thompson’s book.
The book is volume one of a trilogy on President Obama and Black America.
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, refer ring 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 to exclusively look at the president and Black voters. Issues discussed include health care, education, Black youth training, mentoring and development, the 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,” Michelle says in the book. “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.”
“Obama and Black Loyalty” also delves into Obama’s Africa policy. Alice Mukabane, a leader of the Kenyan community in Washington, reveals 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,” Shakur said.
New York R&B and neo-soul recording artist Koleurz, who will be attending the release event, wrote the theme song for the book.