Support Marketplace

A quiet revolution of black leadership

Commentator Marcellus Andrews

TEXT OF COMMENTARY

Kai Ryssdal: Along with all the rest of the contenders, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's been hitting the campaign trail pretty hard lately. Last week he was laying out his plans to fight poverty. There was the YouTube debate Monday night. Yesterday, he launched a big radio ad buy in South Carolina — a state where half of likely primary voters will be black.

Commentator Marcellus Andrews says Obama and others are changing the racial rules of the game.

Marcellus Andrews: Black leaders today are not preachers or protestors.

No, people like Senator Barack Obama, Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C., and Robert Johnson, former CEO of Black Entertainment Television, are leading a quiet revolution of rising expectations that is shaking up all of America, not least black America.

The press is all over stories about how these guys aren't black enough, are sellouts to white people or have sold their own for a bit of fame and fortune.

The truth is where some see sellouts, far more see harbingers of a future full of power and prosperity.

Black people with talent and vision, discipline and toughness will go far in America, despite America.

Obama has raised $56 million for his presidential run from a quarter-million Americans of all colors by speaking in one voice, a black voice, about what our country could be.

Mayor Fenty takes a lot of heat for shaking up the corrupt political culture of a black city caught in the maelstrom of economic change.

The road from poverty to prosperity for black people means we have to dump our bad habit of thinking that the only good government for black people is black-only government.

Robert Johnson's case is the most shocking of all, because he had the nerve to grow rich selling programming to black people while being, heaven forbid, a Republican.

When Johnson sold his company to Viacom, somebody said that he was selling a precious black asset. Please. The man was selling his stuff, not our stuff.

Millions of young, black folks are learning the Obama lesson: Work hard, be right, be prepared and seize the moment when your time comes.

Ryssdal: Marcellus Andrews teaches economics at the City University of New York.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...