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Dr. Ronald Walters on Race in the Race
Dr. Ronald Walters, photo by Robin Holland
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December 14, 2007

"Candidates' diversity is a legitimate topic to cover. When voters go to the polls next year to elect the 44th President of the United States, it's unrealistic to think a candidate's race, gender or religion won't matter to some people. For the first time in history, a woman, an African-American and a Mormon all have a legitimate shot at the White House."

So wrote Angela Tuck, the public editor of the ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION on December 8, 2007. She was responding to a flood of critcism stemming from an article by Sonji Jacobs which suggested that black women faced a dilemma — facing the opportunity to cast a vote for an African-American candidate or a woman for the first time.

BLACK PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS IN AMERICA by Ronald Walters Bill Moyers' guest Dr. Ronald Walters is well-placed to evaluate how race will play out in the presidential race. Dr. Walters worked for both of Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns, and is the author of, among other books, BLACK PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS IN AMERICA: A STRATEGIC APPROACH. Walters notes there is no platform as powerful as a race for president: "We don't get much of a shot in the media... And so this theater is the biggest in the country. And this is the time to get these issues out. And if we can't do it through an African American then we have to do it, oddly through other kinds of dynamic instrumentalities."

Dr. Ronald Walters
Dr. Ronald Walters is internationally known for his expertise on the issues of African American leadership and politics, his writing and his media savvy. Walters carries three major titles. He is director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program, Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and professor in government and politics at the University of Maryland.

In 1984, Walters served as deputy campaign manager for issues of the Jesse Jackson campaign for president, and in 1988, he was consultant for convention issues for the Jackson campaign directed by former Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. He serves as a senior policy consultant to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Dr. Walters is the author of over 100 articles and eight books including: BLACK PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS IN AMERICA, PAN AFRICANISM IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA, WHITE NATIONALISM, BLACK INTERESTS: CONSERVATIVE PUBLIC POLICY AND THE BLACK COMMUNITY and FREEDOM IS NOT ENOUGH: BLACK VOTERS, BLACK CANDIDATES, AND AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS.

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Guest photo by Robin Holland

Published on December 14, 2007

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References and Reading:
African American Leadership Center
Dr. Walters is the director of the the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, established in 1981 at the University Maryland. The Center's mission is "to foster leadership excellence through scholarship and education, with special attention to advancing the leadership of groups historically underrepresented in public life."

"Blacks and the Democratic Party," THE NATION, December 16, 2002
Read Ronald Walters 2002 analysis of the role of black voters in the Democratic Party. Walters noted that in 2002 black turnout was slightly down, stating: "In response to the current state of affairs, blacks should seriously re-evaluate their role within the Democratic Party."

FRONTLINE: "The Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson"
This PBS Web site for the program includes an extensive timeline of Jackson's career and runs for president, audio of his Democratic convention speeches and interviews with colleagues and a book excerpt.

Pew Center for Research: Social Trends: Blacks Assess the State of Black America
Among the headlines of the recent study: "Optimism about Black Progress Declines to 24-Year Low." Only 20% of the African-Americans surveyed thought blacks in America are better off than five years ago.

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