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(73,657 posts)
Tue Dec 1, 2015, 07:58 PM Dec 2015

Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile

By Black Kos
Tuesday Dec 01, 2015 4:09 PM EST

Black Celebrity Endorsements: The Cautionary Tale of Joe Louis’ Endorsement for Wendell Willkie

Commentary by Chitown Kev

Joe Louis campaigned for Republican nominee Wendell Willkie in 1940. Still, ~65-70% of blacks voted for FDR nationwide.

Last Tuesday in Atlanta, rapper and political activist Killer Mike (birth name: Michael Render) reiterated his endorsement of Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic nomination for President. Killer Mike’s introduction of Senator Sanders, in which he explained his endorsement of Bernie Sanders is both passionate and eloquent. Frankly, I think this is a good “get” for Senator Sanders in terms of endorsements for his candidacy.

But I am alarmed by the volume of commentary hoping and hyping that Killer Mike’s endorsement will, somehow, drive up Senator Sanders’ sagging poll numbers among African-Americans. To read much of the commentary on this specific endorsement of Senator Sanders, Mr. Render’s endorsement will unleash torrents of damned-up African American support for Senator Sanders that will allow Sanders to siphon off enough African American supporters of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and sweep Sanders to the Democratic nomination. Historically, gaining black electoral support via black celebrity endorsements is easily said but rarely done, as the case of heavyweight champion Joe Louis’ endorsement of Republican nominee Wendell Willkie in the 1940 presidential campaign shows.

First, let’s just stipulate that in terms of “celebrity”, Killer Mike is not in the same league (or even the same galaxy cluster) as Joe Louis circa 1940. That’s simply an objective fact.

Mr. Louis gave his reasons for supporting Mr. Willkie’s 1940 presidential campaign in his 1978 autobiography Joe Louis, My Life (written with Edna and Art Rust, Jr.):

...I didn’t know too much about Willkie except that he was running on the internationalist wing of the Republican Party out of Indiana. He was real heavy on civil rights. But you know, there was something so sincere and honest about the man that he got my attention. I had started getting involved with politics through Charles Roxborough; he was Roxy’s brother. Charles was the first black Senator from Michigan. Sometimes he’d have me appear at political events and sit me up on the dias. When they’d introduced me, I’d stand up and say “Thank you” and sit right down but I’d listen. I never supported anybody in politics unless I felt that they were giving my people a fair shake.

The rest:

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(24,544 posts)
1. Anyone that thinks that one little known rapper's endorsement will do more than get that rapper's
Tue Dec 1, 2015, 08:42 PM
Dec 2015

name in the paper for a few days is tripping with a capital TRIP. When Beyonce, the biggest star on the planet, endorsed Hillary it was news for like 12 minutes. No one cares.

The people doing the "ohmygod, ohmygod, Killer (or Black or King or Big depending on who's writing about him) Mike's endorsement is a GAME CHANGA!!1one" are so hilarious in their cluelessness they are actually funny. And the fact that many of them have barely heard of the man themselves (which is why they are incapable of spelling his name correctly) just underscores how really inducing his endorsement is.

There was more noise about Killer Mike's endorsement than Keith Ellison's. Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. None at all.


(73,657 posts)
2. They should have asked me, since I'm the ONLY person on this site that plays his music
Tue Dec 1, 2015, 08:53 PM
Dec 2015

And I would have told them, "Meh."


(24,544 posts)
3. I did an OP here about Mike's endorsement and how it was much more of a coming of age hip hop
Tue Dec 1, 2015, 09:12 PM
Dec 2015

story than a "ohmygod, ohmygod Killer Mike endorsed Sanders!1one" story.

The fact that a presidential candidate openly wooed a rapper (and a profane one at that) is the only real story to me. And seeing all of these rappers being brought onto these stages with these candidates now where, not too long ago, they were being openly slammed and derided FROM the stage is a beautiful thing. Who they support is actually secondary.

What's interesting about that Kos diary is that it shows that the black vote has actually been far more important to the success/failure of candidates for a hell of a lot longer than most of us even know. The lack of black support to Wilkie -- the more "liberal" candidate -- seems to have made a massive difference even then.

brer cat

(25,097 posts)
7. Your last paragraph
Wed Dec 2, 2015, 10:54 AM
Dec 2015

states what I was about to post. Kev's blog has me wanting to read Nancy Weiss' book to learn more.

I read your earlier OP about Mike's endorsement. I am almost elderly, and haven't been very tolerant of contemporary music for a long time; it is just a lot of noise and visuals that hurt my ears and eyes...no doubt just what my parents felt about rock and roll back in the day. At any rate, we older folks, especially white older folks, shouldn't just shrug this off as an endorsement by someone we never heard of, but recognize the significance of this culture being placed center stage in a political arena. I may not be able to withstand the pounding on my sensibilities that listening to it would require, but I don't want to remain ignorant of the underlying message or the importance of its expanding reach. I really appreciate the education I get from you much younger posters.


(24,544 posts)
8. Brer cat, what a lovely thing to say
Wed Dec 2, 2015, 03:58 PM
Dec 2015
I really appreciate the education I get from you much younger posters.

That was the point I and a few others in the thread were trying to make. That Killer Mike's endorsement (which I don't think will have much effect at all) was actually not nearly as big a deal as the fact that he was wooed to endorse anyone at all! Like I said, it wasn't that long ago when candidates, even Dem ones, went out of their way to demonize black people from those stages. And now they are being openly, actively wooed and encouraged to participate as fully as possible.

This is only a good thing for black people. Especially young ones.


(56,582 posts)
4. I've got a mix CD with him on it, "Best of Dirty South III"
Tue Dec 1, 2015, 10:40 PM
Dec 2015

Honestly I'm probably just too old; my heart never followed hip hop to Atlanta ten years ago. Though if that one track is anything he's not really Dirty South, he just happens to be there.



(31,849 posts)
5. Great, and telling, Point about DU:Bernie's ...
Wed Dec 2, 2015, 10:12 AM
Dec 2015

reaction to the Ellison endorsement, relative to the KM endorsement.

Though I suspose it can be explained by their "Millions of disengaged voters (i.e., young Black voters) really will show up at the polls, this time" narrative.

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