The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


    Kerry shows new fire at Baptist Convention

    Presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., received a warmwelcome from attendees of the 124th Annual National BaptistConvention on Thursday afternoon. Though Kerry was not listed as afeatured speaker on the original schedule received him…andanother familiar face on the political scene- Rev. Jesse Jackson,with fast paced gospel music and shouts of praise.

    The annual convention is the largest black Baptist organizationgathering, with over 7 million delegates.

    “Four years ago, George Bush came to office calling himself a’compassionate conservative,'” Kerry said. “It is clear for fouryears, George W. Bush may have talked about compassion, but he’swalked right by,” he said after biblical reference to the story ofthe Good Samaritan in keeping with the religious tone of theconvention.

    Kerry also took the opportunity to hammer his new mantra, “Thenext time you hear George W. Bush, remember the W stands for wrong.Wrong choices for Americans, wrong direction for America, wrongleadership for our nation.”

    The convention went contrary to tradition by not inviting anincumbent president, George W. Bush, but opting for Kerry.Convention heads have expressed discontent with the War in Iraq andthe White House’s approval of anti-affirmative action lawsuits inthe University of Michigan admissions process.

    The Democratic presidential nominee took the opportunitypresented by the rift between the African American religiouscommunity and President Bush, to fight back after spates of attacksby the Bush administration and the Swift Boat veterans on hiscampaign.

    Jackson praised Kerry’s “steady record of progress, ofintegrity, of consistency,” in an attempt to sell Kerry’sleadership to the black community

    “These have been three very difficult years for us, the NAACP,Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Organized Labor. We have nothad one meeting with the President or with the Attorney General,”Jackson said. “We have worked too hard, and bled too much. Died tooyoung, paid too many taxes, dying too frequently in the rough to belocked out of the white house,” he said.

    Kerry hummed the struggles of African Americans, drawing severalreferences to the bible, the struggles of the civil rightsmovement, and the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Hereminding the audience that “faith is the substance of things hopedfor, evidence of things not seen.”

    Adopting his new tough-talk, Kerry called the war in Iraq as a”mess”.

    “It was wrong to rush to war without a plan to the win peace. Itwas wrong not to build a true international global coalition toshare the costs and the risks,” Kerry said.

    Because the United States went to war alone, he said, thecountry is bearing the cost and the majority of the casualtiesalone also.

    Kerry argued that the $200 billion being spent on the war couldbe going to communities, health care, education, creating more jobsand homeland security.

    The new jobs being created, he said, paid workers less andprovided fewer benefits.

    “My friends, the promise of a better America is not being metwhen nearly one in three African American children are living inpoverty or when half the black men in New York City are out ofwork. Here in Louisiana, the poverty rate is more than 20 percent,”Kerry said.

    On healthcare, Kerry said that the majority of the 5 millionAmericans who lost health care were minorities, with 43 percentbeing African Americans.

    Under a Kerry administration, the average family would save upto $1,000 per year on health care premiums and that all childrenwould have health coverage.

    But he plans to balance the treasury on such a promise. To payfor the plan on a federal level, Kerry said, he will re-instate thetax cuts under the Bush administration and then invest it in healthcare.

    “When I’m president,” Kerry said, “I’m introducing my plan tocongress and the United States of America is going to stop beingthe only nation in the world that fails to understand health careis not a privilege for the wealthy, and the elected, and theconnected. It is a right for all Americans.”

    Kerry called Bush’s idea of privatizing Social Security andcutting benefits a bad idea. “I’ll say it plainly,” Kerry said, “Iwill never privatize Social Security. I will not cut SocialSecurity benefits and I will not raise the retirement age. Becausein America when you’ve worked for a lifetime, America owes you whatyou’ve earned.”

    Kerry said that Bush demands accountability from everyone ineducation except those of his own administration. “You can’t reallyget the job done in classrooms when there are too many children,especially children who are coming from disadvantaged communities,”he said.

    Only 50 percent of African Americans are graduating from HighSchool, he said, and 18 percent are graduating from college. Kerrysaid that he plans to close the achievement gap by setting higherexpectations on schools and providing better resources.

    With the opportunity to appoint as many as four Supreme Courtjustices, Kerry said that it is important that the right people areappointed.

    “John Edwards and I know that the whole future of civil rightsand affirmative action may hinge on a single Supreme Court vote,”Kerry said.

    Kerry said “This time, we’re going to fight to make sure thatevery vote is counted and every vote counts”. Kerry said thatpeople are on the ground in Florida and other states to make sure”nothing stands in the way of fairness.”

    In addressing accusations that the Democratic Party takesAfrican American voters for granted, Kerry preached, “Beware offalse profits which come to you in sheep’s clothing.”

    “The president who in the last four years couldn’t even find thetime to meet with the NAACP. Couldn�t even find the time tomeet with the black caucus. Couldn’t find the time to meet with theLeadership Conference on Civil Rights” he said.

    Kerry said that Bush could no longer pretend to be a friend ofAfrican Americans given his refusal to address their needs.

    “We will march with you every step of the way to full equalityfor all Americans,” he said. “I’m ready to march with you. Will youmarch with me?”

    With less than two months to election day Kerry told voters tostand with him in creating an America that is stronger at home andrespected abroad.

    Kerry supporters like G. David Horton, an attendee of theconvention from Miami, Fla., described the speech as”marvelous.”

    “It was what we needed to hear,” Horton said. “The direction heseems to be going in is the direction we should be going in.”

    Whether Kerry’s new direction is going to be enough to give hima comeback in the polls and among undecided voters, Robert Mayes, aconvention attendee from Oklahoma City, Okla. said the positivepoints of Kerrys speech make appealing.

    Vonzella Bryant, the national director of finance for theNational Baptist Convention based in Nashville, Tenn., also agrees.Bryant said Kerry’s speech contrasts to the Bush’s campaign thathas been filled with personal attacks.

    Her daughter, Joseen Bryant, a Xavier University student said,”All the hits he’s been taking on the news and everything likethat, saying he would be a weak leader, I think he just totallydisproved that. I think it’s a good thing. A much stronger campaignthan what you hear on the news.”

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    Kerry shows new fire at Baptist Convention