Posted on August 4, 2004

Kerry Gives ‘Black Power’ Salute to NAACP, July 16, 2004

Presidential candidate John Kerry clenched his fist and thrust it into the air at yesterday’s NAACP convention in Philadelphia — in what appeared to be a “Black Power” salute reminiscent of some of the race-based separatist movements of the 1960s.

The Kerry campaign refused to confirm that their candidate “intended” to offer the controversial gesture, the New York Post said.

But photographs of the moment left little room for any other interpretation. Kerry’s “Black Power” salute was delivered from the podium while standing side-by-side with NAACP president Kweisi Mfume.

The top Democrat engaged in the divisive symbolism despite telling the group that he intended to be “a uniter” if elected.

Some saw the move as an attempt by Kerry to overcome his stiff “white” image. In April he told MTV that he was a big fan of rap music. In the 1990s his wife Teresa, who came to the U.S. from Mozambique in 1964, repeatedly referred to herself as “African American.”

At the time, her spokesman defended the claim saying that even her black friends referred to her using that term. But it’s not clear whether Sen. Kerry actually has any black friends.

Sen. Kerry has also been hit with complaints from black and Hispanic leaders who criticized him for having a campaign staff that was virtually all white until earlier this year.