August 1st, 2008
01:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama hecklers accuse him of neglecting black community

Obama was greeted by hecklers at a Florida event Friday.
Obama was greeted by hecklers at a Florida event Friday.


ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) –
Three young African-American protestors, and two white women, interrupted Barack Obama at an economic town hall in Florida Friday, accusing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee of neglecting the black community.

Watch: Hecklers interrupt Obama event

The protestors - who held a sign reading "What About the Black Community, Obama?" – said the Illinois senator had not been active enough on issues of interest to African-Americans, ranging from the impact of subprime mortgages to the shooting of Sean Bell and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Obama urged the audience – which began to boo the hecklers – to calm down, before addressing one of the men directly. “I think you’re misinformed. Everything you mentioned I did speak about,” he said, listing legislative initiatives and statements on those issues as the men continued to shout at him and the crowd began to chant “Yes, We Can,” the Obama campaign’s cheer.

“On each issue I’ve spoken out. I may not have spoken out the way you wanted me to speak out - I understand, but…hold on a second,” said Obama. “What I’m saying is, what I’m suggesting is on each of these issues I’ve spoken out….The one thing I think is important is that we’re respecting each other and the way we’ll solve our problems…is if all of us come together, black, white, Hispanic, Asian-American.”


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Regina

    I watched the exchange and thought Sen. Obama handled himself quite well. I LOVED the part where he gently explained to the brotha he could vote for someone else....We can't please all of the people all of the time, but as a biracial woman who's fought the good figst for racial justice and equality, I can honestly say we live in America. Stop segregating - nothing will change until WE CHANGE IT. GO OBAMA!

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Songbird McCain

    The Sean Bell incident is not a black issue. Instead it is a legal issue. At most it's NYC police issue. Just because a police department uses excessive force doesnt make it a hate crime against the victims skin color nor his entire race. If the NYPD was out shooting holes in black people every day, THEN it would be a black issue. I think it would be a mistake for Obama to begin focusing on "black issues" to the exclusion of the rest of the 87% of the nation who are not black.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Carolyn

    Obama has to be the President of all the people. He has dealt with those issues. Before we criticize we must be informed. Al Sharpton spoke about the case in New York on CNN that obama did not have to be there on the line. He would be the type of Presidential representative that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton was. This is a historical event, and those hecklers should conserve their efforts for some meanful causes.

    August 1, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. RON CHARLES

    what's going on with those hecklers.What should Obama do?come out and have a shouting match listen all you haters have some respect for the next and i said the next President of the USA go Obama win for the color folks

    August 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Karen B in Houston

    They are angry about the state of black America. Don't shoot the messengers unless you live in their shoes. It's hard to hurt and have decorum at the same time.

    Obama handled the situation in an excellent manner, and he did NOT sidestep the question or the situation.

    In so many words, Obama told them that if they don't like how he's addressing their issues then don't vote for him. He followed that with if they want to change things they should run for office. Basically, he was telling them not to wait on someone else to change things, don't just sit and gripe and complain, but get off your butts and start working on changing things themselves.

    August 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Tony Rogers

    Please stop putting all black people in the same box each time one or two black people does something. The Black communtity DID NOT HECKLE Obama. Three men did. CNN should be ashamed for embracing these games. It is not the candidates that will not discuss issues it has been CNN and the rest of the media who have damaged this election even back to the primary. And because you have the micaphone no one can here that WE ARE TIRED OF THE MEDIA. And I mean all races. The media definately needs diversity.

    Tony

    August 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Jimmy in NYC

    As a Latin American I think that Barack has handled every issue presented to him about as well as one can handle it.
    He is truly an inspiring person.I think America will benefit from his common sense perspectives.
    On the Hillary note: She wants the VP job? For someone who loves her country so much she sure is keeping a low profile. I say if she really cares about America she would help Barack Obama and vie for the VP position.
    If she only cares about Hillary then she will sit this one out and let Obama hang himself(she hopes) and then make a run in 4 years. Not what I hope will happen but who knows with the Clintons sometimes.
    Obama/Clinton? in 08!

    August 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Ellie, MD

    YOU know what?

    You have people in every RACE who act a FOOL and do nothing but complain. WHERE is it written that it's Sen. Barrack Obama's sole responsibility to SOLVE all the problems facing the black communities?

    Where is the responsibilities of ALL African Americans to step up and start doing something to improve their communities? Many African Americans, NOT ALL, do nothing but complain and point the fingers at our African American leaders (i.e., Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, etc.) like they are the "answers" to all the problems facing the black community. Who made Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton the "black" spokesperson of the world? White mainstream America made that decision because they were not equipped in dealing AND did NOT want to deal with many issues facing the black communities.

    The question Sen. Obama SHOULD have asked these young gentlemen is WHAT HAVE THEY DONE IN REGARDS TO HELPING SOLVE SOME OF THE ISSUES IN THEIR COMMUNITY (i.e. John Bell case, Jena Six, etc.? Are they registered to VOTE? Do they volunteer in their community? Do they mentor kids in their community?

    These young men could have been more productive in their approach. It speaks to reason that if you want CHANGE, it BEGINS with YOU. YOU have to be PART of the whole SOLUTION process of CHANGE, if you truly want change. YOU just can't sit on the side lines and complain about injustices going on in your culture when it hits the 6:00 o'clock news, It's too late then.

    These young men were looking for someone to instantly blame for everything WRONG in the black community without having to LOOK at themselves, and what role they are playing on making a difference in their own lives and the lives in their communities.

    THAT'S the million dollar questions MANY African Americans need to ask themselves. WHAT are you doing to better your own community? Sen. Obama is NOT the answer, NOR should be be expected to CURE everything wrong in the BLACK community. That is NOT his JOB or his sole responsibility. EVERY African America needs to STEP UP and start doing RIGHT amongst themselves and start focusing on being part of the solution, rather than being the source of the problem.

    EVERY race/culture has their share of "fools" doing nothing but complaining and blaming everyone else but themselves.

    This is not just a "black" issue, It's an HUMAN RACE issue.

    August 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Messiah complex

    But the Obama supporters were always so NICE and respectful of Hillary.

    How can THIS be?

    Bring back Hillary if you hope to win in Nov.

    The days of the panderer are over.

    The nation is getting over its crush on Obama- and the love affair will not last till election day.

    August 1, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Kurt C.

    You knew it wouldn't be long before someone said, "McCain planted them!!!111".

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Jillian, PA

    First McCain is physically restrained when captured in Vietnam. Now he is mentally restrained when his mind is captured by the Rove/Bush dirty political mindset.

    We will not accept that kind of politics, this year or ever. We will stand tall and vote for the best candidate, Barack Obama.

    O/08

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. mo

    this is to 'Sick of Obama's Henchmen' . Last I heard the one with bus was McCain and the bus has derailed long long time ago and crushing all the working men and women in this country

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Kay

    I do not believe that my community wants to believe that he is only suppose to support us. Wrong, he is to support all people, represent all people. We can not expect for him to support our community without our community supporting him. That does not mean we should not challange him but it needs to be done in a respectful manner.

    OBAMA 2008/2012

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. sodonewithpolitics

    they had to be plants. How could anyone go against our Lord and savior, Obama? Seriously, so cultish!

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. LLMTruth

    As a black man I have no reservations about the comment I'm about to make.

    Look, the POTUS is not just a president of black people or of special interests. Why don't we get it yet? This isn't Jessy Jackson's rainbow coalition or some civil rights movement. This is the candidacy of an individual who aspires to lead ALL people of this country not just African Americans. There are also, Mexican Americans, Italian Americans, Armenian Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, Irish Americans, Scottish Americans, Greek Americans, Haitian Americans, French Americans, and the list is endless. Wouldn't it be a bit selfish for him to be just POTUS of black people? How narrow minded is that??

    What we need to do is get a grip and stop putting unreasonable demands on someone who has to be President of all of us, not just of one particular group. Maybe in the policies he initiates it will benefit all people of this country, and not just BLACK people. Stop the BS!

    Get realistic!! Stop being cry-babies. Let the man do what he can to restore this nation, not just us. Geeeeze.

    Former Panther affiliate.............

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. Collins- Riverview, FL

    As of right now...we are left with the choice between John McCain and Barack Obama. I am in total shock that McCain is close in the polls. I think those that are scared to vote for Barack for whatever their personal reasons deserve to be a citizen in the hell America will become if McCain is elected. Why is hope so bad? Why is coming together so wrong? Why is changing what is obviously, the worse course a president has ever taken, so incorrect?

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. jfs Memhis, Tn

    This candidate has concern for all Americans. I am fearful that many voters, regardles of color, background ,etc. DO NOT TAKE THE TIME TO BE INFORMED !!! That is how we ended up with the current president and COULD end up with McCain. The Republicans have counted on that mentality since 1968. That's when these AWFUL Mudslinging tactics got a hold of politics. Negativism feds on the misinformed LAZY voter. If anything, we can only hope that this election will be the turning point for a new campaigning enviornment.

    August 1, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Dave

    HRC has hecklers removed. McCain has them removed and makes jokes about them. Obama actually listens to them and addresses their concerns. I find that pretty interesting.
    As to what they were heckling about...they were misguided to think that the first potential black potus is going to be some kind of black super hero that ends crime, drug use, etc in low income neighborhoods. Thats not something the president can do, thats something the people however can change.

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Kurt C.

    This uneducated man needs to read up on the definition of "windfall". He is misusing it.

    His energy plan is the "Do Nothing" plan.

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  20. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    It's too big of a coincidence that the McCain team brings up race as a big talking point yesterday, and then these hecklers show up at an Obama rally today interjecting race into his talk on economics. Republican dirty tricks for sure.

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. gotcha

    I like my candidates with a little dignity and decorum. This guy Obama is a jerk. Senator McCain, my darling, is a very dignified man and he will win.

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. sad for party unity

    Obama will be constantly needing to prove himself black enough to the African American community and he will be a president for "his" people only.

    Hillary was the champion for ALL Americans and Obama played dirty and wielded the race card to carve her up and discard her.

    Obama will never get my vote.

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Joseph Baker

    I would venture to guess that much of the support of Barack Obama in the black community stems from a misguided belief that just because he is black, he will somehow become Al Sharpton and protest and rave about every perceived slight that African-Americans have ever received. Sen. Obama has not addressed the issues of Sean Bell and Hurrican Katrina because there is nothing that he, as President, would be able to do about it. He is running for President, not head of the NAACP. If elected he will represent AMERICA, not some segment of its population.

    While I think Barack Obama is too oppurtunistic, inexperienced, and conventially liberal to be President, I have to back him up on this one.

    And on a side note - about the subprime mess - (a) Sen. Obama has addressed the issue frequently; (b) it is not a "black" issue (although it fits into the victimization myth quite nicely) and (c) the federal government is not there to save individuals from misguided financial decisions with taxpayer money, regardless of your race

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Linda K.

    They must have been GOP plants. I'm sure three young guys (of any race) would be happy to earn some easy money in these times.

    Can you imagine how happy it would make McCain to see Obama blow up and lose his cool? We would never hear the end of it. But it's not going to happen this time. We've found a Democratic candidate who can handle whatever they throw at him and do it with grace.

    Obama 08

    August 1, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Sal

    next president of the United States

    Obama '08

    August 1, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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