By Caitlin Esch
NAACP volunteer Gayle Akins pitches a table and spreads out voter registration forms at an anti-violence rally outside Oakland City Hall. She’s capitalizing on the support that President Barack Obama inspires locally: many new voters are registering simply to cast a vote for him.
“Sometimes they act like, ‘I don’t know if my vote counts,’ but they know a lot about what’s going on,” Akins says. “If we can convince them — register to vote — and actually get out to vote … it’s a really good thing.”
Still, many African-American voters are frustrated. Four years ago, Oakland resident William Edwards says he was thrilled when Obama won. But Edwards has fallen on hard times; his home is in foreclosure, and he doesn’t think Obama is paying attention to the concerns of his community — things like too few jobs and too many African American men in prison.
“He’s got probably 95 percent of the black vote, but it’s nice to vote and support him,” Edwards says. “But, what are we gonna get for it? Everybody else has an agenda of what they wanna get. So what’s in it for us?”
Oakland Civil rights attorney Eva Paterson has had her own disappointments over the past four years, but she says the black community’s romance with the president has given way to something else. Continue reading