Obama Pgh office opens… Black support still strong for president

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Over the course of his term, President Barack Obama has received criticism from national Black leaders like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for his lack of a policy targeting the African-American community. But despite what national media pundits might have the public believe, Obama’s approval rating was approximately 92 percent among African-American voters in late December.

BiggestFan
BIGGEST FAN—East Hills resident Kimberly Robinson came out to support President Obama. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

“I think Barack Obama is our best choice as president and I think he needs to be reelected so that he can continue doing the work he began when he first went into office,” said Lucille Prater-Holliday, Homewood neighborhood team leader for the Obama campaign. “I’m out here everyday and we knock on doors and we make phone calls, and he has a lot of African-American support out here. They respect him and hold him in the highest regard.”

Prater-Holliday was one of approximately 500 at the opening of the Organizing for America Pittsburgh field office on Feb. 2. The campaign launch brought together a mix of local politicians and Obama supporters eager to help get the president elected for a second term.

“I thought it was really nice to see people coming together. It was very informative. We need to get the awareness out there. We need to get people registered,” said Kimberly Robinson of the East Hills. “I think Obama is definitely the man for the job. We need to get him in there for another term. I don’t think with everything he inherited he had enough time to do everything he wanted to do. I think he’s trying to help our country and I think he has a great vision for us.”

The New Pittsburgh Courier also met with Jennifer Austin, Obama’s Pennsylvania press secretary and Mark Nicastre, communications director at Pennsylvania Democratic Party to discuss campaign plans for the 2012 presidential election and how they could best get information to the Courier.

One day earlier on Feb. 1, the campaign launched African-Americans for Obama, one of its outreach efforts targeted at specific demographic groups. The launch was timed to coincide with the beginning of Black History month and the website features a section dedicated to “the president’s accomplishments for African-Americans.”

The section includes a list of accomplishments in economic issues, education, healthcare, urban policies, justice, and crime prevention. This includes a variety of Obama’s efforts from signing the Fair Sentencing Act, which narrows the disparity between those convicted of possessing crack cocaine and powered cocaine; to the Minority Business Development Agency, which helped African-Americans secure more than $929 million in contracts and financing in 2009.

“I really have a strong conviction that the campaign promises President Obama made, he’s going to bring them to fruition,” said Shirley Taylor, a community organizer. “My turf is largely made up of Wilkinsburg, Homewood, East Liberty and the Hill District, and those areas are densely populated with African-Americans and we are finding that they’re largely on board with President Obama’s initiatives and we have a lot of African-American volunteers to verify that fact.”

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