Presidential candidates shun Black voters.

Some remember the monumental Black National Political Convention held in Gary, In in March 1972. It was convened by former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher and author/activist Amari Baraka and Michigan Congressman Charlie Diggs, both of the latter are now deceased. It was the first time a collective of African Americans exclusively set out to forge an agenda in America focus solely on Black people. This weekend June 10 and 11, the same mission, with another group of African Americans from all walks of life is set to take up the mantle from 1972.

Bobby Seale and Jesse Jackson
Back Panther leader Bobby Seale confers with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the 1972 National Black Political Convention

The main difference this year is that the top three presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, all were invited to address the convention and be part of a panel discussion. Guess what? Despite a Black captive audience, a near-guarantee of national media exposure, and the opportunity to rebut some of the criticism leveled against them by Black backers, all three refused the invitation. Their refusal speaks volumes about how little they regard connecting with Black voters.

Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., addresses the press at the opening of the National Black Political Convention, March 10, 1972. Rev. Jesse Jackson is second from left.
Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., addresses the press at the opening of the National Black Political Convention, March 10, 1972. Rev. Jesse Jackson is second from left.

Many of the nation’s leading activists, African-American politicians, business leaders and every day people will descend on the Genesis Center for this important two-day event. It is almost inconceivable that candidates from both parties will take a bye on this event.

If nothing else it certainly tells Black voters we need to spend the next several months leading up to the November elections studying the Libertarian and Green Party candidates.