Op-ed submission by Project 21
Washington, DC: Mychal Massie, chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network, is critical of the premise of talk show host Tavis Smiley’s upcoming March 20 conference that seeks to set a “black agenda” for America.
“What is a black agenda?” asks Project 21’s Massie. “Jobs, retirement income, education, cost of living, crime and so on are not black American issues. They are American issues. It’s not predicated on race and color. So why is Tavis Smiley seeking to divide us when Americans should be coming together?”
Tavis Smiley, a PBS host, is set to hold a conference at Chicago State University on March 20 to discuss the alleged need for an exclusive political agenda for black Americans. Smiley has been critical of Barack Obama for not paying special attention to the black community and has taken black leaders to task for not pushing Obama to maintain a race-specific agenda for black citizens. Panelists at the event are reported to include noted left-wing luminaries Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Julianne Malveaux, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan.
“Project 21, the group I head, exists because there are those who would deny there is a diversity of opinion within the black community,” noted Massie. “With panelists representing a political range from Jesse Jackson to Louis Farrakhan, it seems sadly obvious that Smiley’s gathering will perpetuate this myth.”
Talking to the Associated Press about his conference and black support for Obama during the election and the need for his March 20 conference, Smiley asked: “[N]ow that he’s elected, what are black people being asked to do to hold him accountable to our agenda?”
“Obama is the President of the United States of America, he is not the president of black America,” Project 21’s Massie countered. “He can no more be expected to show preferential treatment to blacks any more than Jimmy Carter was expected to have shown preferential treatment to white southerners. Smiley, who recently abandoned his ‘State of Black America,’ is apparently feeling left out. This seems to be just another way for him to promote Tavis Smiley’s race-mongering agenda.”
Massie added: “One need only look at the cast malevolent marplots Smiley assembled as a panel to understand exactly what is taking place. I can assure you this is about them heretofore not being able to capitalize to the extent they would like from Obama being in office.”