Two professors at Clark Atlanta University have come forward to claim authorship of the controversial “black agenda” memo, reports my colleague Jim Galloway at Political Insider.
In claiming authorship, William Boone and Keith Jennings also try to rebut the harsh criticism generated by the memo, arguing that “the recent suggestion that it is somehow racist to highlight an agenda that promotes the interests of African American voters is patently false. It is a red herring that polarizes debate about electing the most qualified candidate for Atlanta’s next mayor.”
“The interests of African American voters are just as legitimate as other Atlanta voters, and the notion that we must apologize for highlighting those interests is absurd,” the two professors now write.
And you know what? They’re absolutely right. They do not need to apologize for highlighting the legitimate interests of black Atlanta voters. As they point out, “The need for African American voter and taxpayer interests to be addressed by all candidates is just as legitimate as it is for candidates to respond to issues raised by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Stand-Up, Central Atlanta Progress or any Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU).”
Unfortunately, the original memo written by Boone and Jennings went well beyond advocating an agenda for African American voters and seeking commitments from mayoral candidates to support it, as they now try to describe it. In several places, it postulated that a black mayor, and only a black mayor, could be trusted to represent the interests of black Atlantans.
“Time is of the essence because in order to defeat a Norwood (white) mayoral candidacy we have to get out now and work in a manner to defeat her without a runoff, and the key is a significant Black turnout in the general election,” they wrote.
“The view that the times are too serious to stand on the sidelines is absolutely correct from the perspective of a black mayor at all cost,” they further argued. “In fact, if a white candidate were to win the 2009 mayoral race, it would be just as significant in political terms as Maynard Jackson’s victory in 1973.”
That’s what was controversial. That’s the argument that drew deserved criticism. They, not their critics, introduced “a red herring that polarizes debate about electing the most qualified candidate for Atlanta’s next mayor.” And in their claim to authorship and their defense of the original memo, Boone and Jennings do not address or even acknowledge that fact.