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. Moses, Ca.

    I wonder how much did McWar paid them????

    August 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY IS HURTING, BADLY.

    THE LATINO COMMUNITY IS HURTING BADLY.

    THE WHITE COMMUNITY IS HURTING BADLY.

    THE ASIAN & OTHER COMMUNITIES ARE HURTING BADLY.

    FOLKS AMERICANS HURTING BADLY.

    THE RATE OF PEDIATRIC MALNUTRITION & ABUSE HAS GONE

    UP DRASTICALLY. WE ARE A NATION IN TROUBLE & WE NEED

    TO CHANGE DIRECTION IMMEDIATELY.

    August 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Steve

    I'm not sure what the heckler had in mind. Obama has been a community activist for years. He's talked about helping the on-going debacle that the Kartina victims are suffering through. He's talked directly to black families about responsibilities. Maybe he hasn't spoken about the black community lately, specifically, but when he's talking about helping people in need, he's including all people who need help. Poor black neighborhoods must be included, right?
    I'm not African American, so maybe I don't get it. I hope Obama helps everyone, and doesn't just focus on one ethnic or social group. Most of us could use a little help...

    August 1, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Vote Nader

    He solves everything by saying "We need to come together and solve our problems."

    How do so many people buy this? He isn't saying anything. Am I supposed to believe my government isn't trying to solve problems now? They are, they're just not good at it. From what I've seen, he won't help much in that regard.

    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    August 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Christopher, Madison, WI

    Most likely republican black males sent by McSame. When will all minorities realize the republican party is not a party representing anyone of than rich white males and their delusional female counterparts like Man Coulter? Wake up America, the republicans have sold our country to Communistic China!

    August 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Tasha from Houston

    This young man was misinformed on the issues. He didn't do any research on any of the accusations. As a 31 year old black woman, I was disappointed to see another black man want to point the finger at someone else and ignore the 3 pointing back at him. Obama was correct in challenging him to get into public service and be the change he wants to see.

    August 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. ls

    McCain's staff would have escorted those people out – and could have cared less about addressing their concerns. Oh yeah, and then crack a joke as they were being escorted out of the room.

    Obama made a good choice to let those men speak out and then address their concerns.

    August 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. wycliffe, NJ

    I am Black man and completeley satisfied with the way obama has handled issues affecting black community. Will solve all the issues, NO, i will be lying if i said yes. I also understand that we african americans must strive harder to confront and solve issues affecting us.

    August 1, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Eric in Ca

    Obama is a man of the People! It will be a great testament of our great country to return an Intelligent man to the White House! That's why Obama has my vote!

    August 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. Sometimesthetruthhurts

    Wow,
    These hecklers are examples of what makes so many blacks look bad. Turning to high level politicians for problems common people can solve. The bane of black America.
    Sincerly,
    African American Professional

    August 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. Bill from ALabama

    Most is understood by Obama's constituency,that no matter what he says,he has no choice in the first four years but to keep his strongest supporters satisfied,or he doesn't get re-elected for the second four years, but Obama has done such a good job covering the meaning of his "Urgency of Now",,that he has fooled his less astute supporters in to thinking he has abandoned them. Priceless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lmao

    August 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Really

    Another staged event?

    August 1, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. norml

    i understand the guy's being upset about the issues they brought up,but,as a white supporter of obama,my 'brothers' need to chill.obama is not just a black man running for president.he is a very smart black man ,who knows he cant compete with white candidates if he only runs on black issues.he has spoken out many times on these issues,but maybe the 'brothers' were too mad about what happened,to hear.barack will need us all to take issue with these problems .

    August 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. CM

    I can't believe people still want him to campaign based on a certain race. Didn't all the points mentioned above affect more than just the black community?

    Obama has said it many times before. He's campaigning for the American people and the United States of America. Not red states and blue states. Some people still can't see past the color of the man's skin.

    August 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. Linda31

    I watched the interaction and Obama handled it very well. He also addressed their questions.

    August 1, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. RyanD.

    How much did McCain pay them? LOL

    August 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Trina in N.C

    As Senator Obama stated, he spoke out or was involved in all of the above issues. I think the young men could have been more courteous and respectful about their concerns. Their out right disruption of the Senator was a display of ignorance. Senator Obama will be a President of all people, not just African American people..

    I was very pleased at how the Senator handled the hecklers... I agree with what Senator Obama stated "You have the choice to vote for someone else, or run for office yourself"...He encouraged the gentlemen to look at their options, and maybe get more involved personally with the issues that concern them....

    Good display of leadership Senator....

    August 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. BREAKING NEWS:

    WE (meaning black people) ARE OUR OWN 'WORST ENEMY".

    Sen. Obama is not required to carry the load of AA community. Each of us should be accountable for our selves and our we together should be our brothers keeper.

    What have these fools (three young BOYS) done?

    Give me a break...I will be so happy when this part of the election is over.

    H3

    August 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Candy West Virginia

    How funny, so the fact that this poor man is fighting prejudice every day, fighting attacks that no white candidate has ever fought and is not further ahead in the polls because of his race is not enough for them? How interesting. Then again they could be repug plants and I wouldn't be surprised if they were.

    August 1, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Franky in washington

    I feel Obama did an exceptional job in handling these hecklers he answered there questions abnd offered them a chance to speak after he was done giving his speech

    August 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. TJ

    I find this amazingly ignorant. I'm an African American woman and I question whether this issue would have been brought up if the candidate wasn't black. Are the asking McCain this same question? Some people expect Obama (who is one man) to come and and have the answer to everything. It's ridiculous.

    August 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Marilyn, DE

    The black community is fine with Senator Obama. I would ask those men if the McCain campaign is paying them to heckle the Senator. Just as there were paid hecklers the last protest where Dr. King marched in Memphis, TN.

    I hope that the American people aren't fooled by such shananigans. We will not be deterred.

    Obama will be our next president and we can't wait.

    Signed –A black woman.

    August 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. MCR

    Obama has flipflopped so much; who knows where he stands, especially AfriicanAmericans.

    August 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Ted, WA

    Some black people think he is too white

    Some white people think he is too black.

    That's the perfect candidate for me.

    -Ted, WA

    August 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Texas Liberal

    One problem with us Liberals is that we tend to be too icky about matters of principle. We expect our leaders to be saintly. They must never give in on any issue, not even 1%. However, politics is no place for saints. They never win elections (ask Ralph Nader, who says all the right things on every issue.)

    America does not need a Black president who takes care of Black people. America needs a good president who is concerned about young people, poor people, sick people, unemployed people, underemployed people, undereducated people, and single moms. If America can solve those problems, Black people will be just fine.

    August 1, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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