Jesse Jackson and Condi Rice Most Important Black Leaders
A new poll of black Americans name Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice as the “most important black leader.”
Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice get the top support among blacks asked to name the nation’s “most important black leader,” according to an AP-AOL Black Voices poll. Next come Colin Powell and Barack Obama. Many blacks question whether any one person can wear the leadership mantle for such a large and diverse group of people. At the same time, two-thirds in the poll said leaders in their communities were effective representatives of their interests.
When blacks were asked to come up with the person they considered “the most important black leader,” 15 percent chose Jackson, a civil rights activist who ran for president in the 1980s, while 11 percent picked Secretary of State Rice, 8 percent chose former Secretary of State Powell, and 6 percent named Obama, a freshman Democratic senator from Illinois. About one-third declined to volunteer a name. Two of the four mentioned most often — Rice and Powell — are from a Republican administration that is unpopular with most blacks.
Less than one in five of those polled, 18 percent, said the current black leadership is doing a “very effective” job of representing the black community. Half described black leadership as “somewhat effective.” “I’m kind of disillusioned,” said retiree John Manning, who says the leadership is somewhat effective. The Democrat from Port Charlotte, Fla., added: “They seem to be going in different directions, there doesn’t seem to be a cohesiveness.”
One in five, 21 percent, said they were not sure whom to name among current black leaders and 13 percent chose no one. A few in the poll, 1 percent, named themselves. “What is ‘the most important black leader?'” asked Thomas Miller, a 59-year-old political independent who lives in Philadelphia. “You have to lead your own self, don’t put that on anybody else. Putting faith in somebody else is blind.”
It is indeed interesting to see Rice, an unabashed conservative who is high on many lists of potential Republican presidential or vice presidential nominees, and Colin Powell in the top three. Republicans have done a poor job of persuading middle class blacks who by all rights should be receptive to the party to vote that way. Democrats routinely garner 90-plus percent of the black vote.
Apparently, though, blacks don’t view the high profile black appointees of Republican presidents as mere tokens, as so many white liberals charge. Whether or when that will translate into party realignment is unclear.