Two academics from Clark Atlanta University, political scientists William Boone and Keith Jennings, have claimed authorship of the memo that has roiled the race for mayor.
The two say that accusations that the memo is racist — Mayor Shirley Franklin used the word “bigoted,” and two African-American candidates have condemned it — are “patently false.”
A joint statement from Boone and Jennings was just published by the Newsmaker Journal, the same outfit that distributed the original memo suggesting that African-Americans line up behind Lisa Borders to block the election of a white candidate, Mary Norwood.
Several news outlets, including WABE-FM (90.1FM) and this one, also have obtained copies of the claim to authorship.
Boone is a respected voice in state and local politics, frequently quoted by this newspaper. As a matter of fact, Boone is quoted in an Associated Press article that just moved across the wires, though he is not specifically identified as one of the two authors of the controversial memo:
”Blacks do not return to the polls in a runoff, historically,” said Clark Atlanta University political science professor William Boone. ”It’s going to be very interesting. This is the election that some folks had talked about was coming.”
The AP article then mentions the demographic changes that Atlanta has undergone:
In addition, blacks may no longer feel obligated to elect a black mayor, Boone said.
”You have a young generation of blacks — not native to Atlanta — who don’t necessarily see that as something that has to happen,” said Boone, who is part of a group that circulated the racially-charged e-mail. ”They may be staking their vote on matters more critical than race.”
Here’s the statement that appears over the names of both Boone and Jennings this afternoon:
Race and the Mayor’s Race in Atlanta
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 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).
News coverage to date of an analysis presented to the Black Leadership Forum has been incendiary and misleading. To correct the record, Aaron Turpeau is not the author of the memo, nor is anyone associated with the Black Leadership Forum.
We are the sole authors and we stand by our academic analysis, with the exception for the error regarding the political affiliation of Mr. Spikes and Mr. Thomas, for which we have apologized.
Furthermore, the reported assertion that our statement was written on behalf of any candidate or to instruct African Americans how to vote is flatly wrong. African Americans in Atlanta have been voting for decades and are quite capable of making up their own minds.
Make no mistake, we do not work for any of the candidates. We have held no formal discussions with any of the campaigns and have made no contributions to any of the campaigns.
In our statement we presented views that have been articulated in various parts of the community. As we argue in the statement, African Americans should “critically evaluate all candidates” because “we have arrived at a place in time where we can no longer afford to just look at race in the Mayor’s race or individual council races.”
However, these key quotes from our document have been excluded from media coverage and by individuals who apparently have not read the document.
We stand by our belief that “a black agenda would enable African American interests to be respected by any administration.” 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.
William Boone, PhD
Keith Jennings, PhD
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