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Earning The Black Vote: Are Presidential Candidates Playing The Race Card For African-American Support?

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As Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton andBernie Sanders prepare to battle it out at tonight’s debate in New York, the two are still trying to attract Black voters by speaking at this week’s National Action Network conference.

During a discussion panel about the 2016 presidential race at this year’s NAN conference, Armstrong Williams said candidates are making speeches that reference race “because they feel that’s what you want to hear today.”

He added, “Everything in America is not always about race.”

On Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now, guest host Dr. Wilmer Leon and today’s panel discussed if Sanders and Clinton are offering substantive policy solutions to issues important to the Black community, or if they are just playing the race card for African-American support.

Michelle Bernard, Political Analyst//Attorney, Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy, said she agreed with the excerpts of Armstrong Williams’ remarks that were aired on NewsOne Now: “Increasingly you are seeing more and more African-Americans come to the conclusion that Republicans and Democrats alike take the issues of the African-American community and just sort of poo-poo them.”

Bernard continued, “Democrats know they need our vote, but they also know that many African-Americans aren’t going to vote anywhere else, so your vote can be taken for granted.” 

“Republicans will say, ‘We can’t get the Black vote, so why even bother?’” said Bernard.

“It has been all talk from Democratic leaders for many years,” she said. “What we have seen is that the plight of the African-American community has not changed.”

Dr. Wilmer Leon believes Armstrong Williams’ argument that not everything is about race is correct but, “his math was bad.”

Leon then listed a series of relevant issues that disproportionately impact the African-American community, which include wealth accumulation, unemployment, education, and healthcare.

“All of these things are relevant political issues,” said Dr. Leon. “It is no accident that we are disproportionately impacted” by them, therefore causing issues of race to be centered in our discourse of those topics in sociopolitical and socio-economic discussions.

Watch guest host Dr. Wilmer Leon, Michelle Bernard and the NewsOne Now panel discuss 2016 presidential candidates courting the Black vote in the video clip above.

VIDEO HERE:

Air Date: April 14, 2016

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