Democrats Explore Black Issues: The Tavis Smiley All-American Presidential Forum


On June 28, 2007 the first All-American Presidential Forum was held at Howard University. It featured the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates. Tavis Smiley, the well known host from PBS moderated the forum which was based on the Covenant with Black America and the issues important to the African American Community. He has come a long way from BET talk show host to moderator of a forum for potential presidents of the United States.

During the forum, eight questions were asked on eight unique and important topics: Race in 21st Century America, Poverty in America, The AIDS Epidemic, Economic Disparity, Crime and Punishment, Katrina–Right to Return, Outsourcing Jobs and The Crisis in Darfur. All of these topics affect the African American population in a negative way. Because these problems are not being resolved, the next president of the United States will need to come up with a plan to solve them.

For the first time in history a presidential election will include candidates who are black, Hispanic and of course, white. Also for the first time in many years a woman, Hillary Clinton, will have a great chance to win the election. This forum is especially important to Black Americans because it highlights many of the problems they face today.

This was the first time I really paid close attention to a forum like this without missing a second. It was interesting and I wanted to see mainly how Barack Obama would do. Based on what I saw, he did not impress me. Obama, the only Black candidate, started off stuttering and did not clearly pronounce his words. He did not seem ready for this presidential race to the White House. Before the Forum, I had high expectations from Senator Barack Obama. I really believed he had a great shot at winning the election.

Now, I believe he should remain a senator for a longer period of time before returning as a contender in another presidential election.

Clearly each one of these candidates wants to be president based on the attitude each candidate had while answering the questions. The candidates challenged each other and tried to give their best answer, given a time constraint of only a few minutes for each answer. I was impressed by Senator Hillary Clinton’s comment on the crisis in Sudan. She said that there should be a no-fly zone in Sudan to stop the government of Sudan from bombing its villages, and if there are any planes flying over Sudan, she would bomb them. This shows that Senator Hilary Clinton is serious and won’t give up without a fight.

This presidential race will be tough, but Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, and Barack Obama have already made their presence felt by standing out as shown by the reactions from the audience. Anything can happen now. Maybe a Republican will come out the winner, but to me the chances of this happening are slim.