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From Political Speak to Free Speech

Editor’s Note
From Political Speak to Free Speech

With the presidential primaries around the corner, we’re taking a look at what the nine Democratic candidates as well as the Republican Party are doing to connect with Black voters.
Similar to visits to Black churches on Sunday mornings, some of the Democratic candidates have taken to visiting a few historically Black colleges and universities, perhaps to appeal to a younger generation of the Black electorate.
Some Black politicians have thrown their support behind the presidential candidates, not including the two Black candidates, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun. Should the Black community be rallying around one of the two Black candidates as one political scientist has suggested? Failure to do so, says the scholar, makes it likely that Blacks will not have a decisive role in choosing the Democratic nominee.
Scholars, however, agree on one thing — it’s too early to know which Democratic candidate Black voters will ultimately embrace. Ronald Roach looks at whether Democrats can inspire African Americans to the polls.
On the Republican side, Kendra Hamilton speaks with several scholars who weigh in on the Republican Party’s approach to appeal to Black as well as Latino voters. Blacks and Latinos together could be a formidable coalition in the future. Since it is a well-known fact that Black voters are the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency, not to mention the widespread media coverage of Latinos becoming the new majority minority, some believe that the GOP will be working even harder this election cycle than in the past to drum up the Latino vote, while perhaps conceding the Black vote to the Democrats. Has the GOP given up on Black voters?
Diverting from presidential politics, Black Issues reports on the First Amendment flap at Hampton University. The confiscation of the college-run newspaper, the Hampton Script, because the staff chose to run a news story on the front page instead of a letter from the university’s acting president JoAnn Haysbert as she had requested, has generated quite a bit of media coverage and provoked quite an outcry from media organizations who strongly believe that the actions of the university administration clearly fly in the face of First Amendment rights. One prominent journalism association has even pulled funding from the university to run a summer journalism program for teachers.
It has been a tough but valuable lesson for the students who work on the Hampton Script. And hopefully the administration has learned something as well. I don’t think it’s too strong to say that the students were outraged over the newspaper’s confiscation and the subsequent re-publication of the newspaper with Haysbert’s letter on the front page. Despite the latest incident, however, the students have received solid journalism training and obviously knew the appropriateness of running a story on the front page versus a letter. Hampton aims to have one of the top college journalism programs in the country, and could well be on its way with its new journalism and communications building and high-tech classrooms. It’s clear they have the infrastructure, but the administration seems to have a ways to go in truly embracing and promoting the ideals that go along with having a first-rate journalism program.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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