For black voters – especially black women voters -- in South Carolina, the two biggest concerns they voice about Barack Obama are (1) the fear that he’ll be a martyr and would get shot and (2) the conviction (or fear) that conviction that white people won’t vote for him, thus balkanizing his candidacy and setting back the cause of civil rights for a generation.
Obama has the support of well more than half of South Carolina's black Democratic men, but he splits the votes of black women with Hillary Clinton.
The panacea has always been a win in Iowa – if those white folks found Obama acceptable, then black Democrats would be socially cued to accept his candidacy as potentially transformative.
But Obama’s campaign believes that they're beginning to succeed in wooing black voters away from Hillary Clinton well before a single person has caucused.
The secret is a famous woman -- but not the Big O -- the Big M -- Michelle Obama, whose campaign stops in South Carolina are devoted to the story of how she, too, had similar fears, and how she came to cast them away.
A turning point may be have been a big M.O, speech in on November 20, Orangeburg, where she told hundreds of black voters that she’s “so tired of being afraid” and didn’t want her daughters to grow up being afraid. She speaks of her proud, South Carolinian grandfather, who taught her that “my destiny had not been written before I was born.” Her family “gave her the strength and courage to overcome the doubts” that she faced as a young girl growing up on the south side of Chicago.
A few years ago, the Obamas met Coretta Scott King, a “woman so graceful and dignified”… King told her to “not be afraid…that God was with us, and that she would always keep us in her prayers.” “This is a woman who overcome other people’s doubts and ignorance…”
King, in other words, conferred her blessing on the Obamas.
So -- how to spread this benediction to voters?
The campaign made DVDs out of Michelle Obama's “Fear” speech and plays them regularly -- at house parties, at events, at organizing conclaves, at beauty parlors and barber shops -- what the campaign calls its B and Bs.
Voters who listen to Michelle Obama’s reasoning are said to be quite impressed and if they had reason to doubt, are invariably much more comfortable with the idea of Obama’s candidacy.
“If Michelle Obama could speak with every voter,” an Obama aide said, “We’d run away with the election.”
(Judge for yourself: the 30 minute speech is right here.)
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