AFP, November 8, 2009
Decrying Barack Obama as “white power in black face,” hundreds of African-Americans marched on the White House Saturday to protest policies of the first black US president, and demand that he bring US troops home.
More than 200 people gathered for the first public demonstration by African Americans against the Obama administration since his historic inauguration in January, and slammed the president for continuing what they described as Washington’s “imperialist” agenda around the world.
“We recognize that Barack Hussein Obama is white power in black face,” civil rights activist Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black is Back coalition which arranged the protest, called into a megaphone as the group marched outside the mansion’s gates.
“He is a tool of our imperialist enemies and we demand our freedom. And we demand that Obama withdraw all the troops from Afghanistan right now.”
Protesters also called for Obama to order troops out of Iraq and to scrap Africom, the controversial year-old United States Africa Command, and demanded “hands off” Venezuela and ends to the Cuba embargo and the Zimbabwe blockade.
Several demonstrators held up placards bearing messages such as “US out of Afghanistan” and “Stop US war against Iraq.”
Charles Baron, a New York city councilman and former member of the Black Panthers, a Black Power movement in the mid-1960s and 1970s, attacked the president for turning a cold shoulder to the plight of African-Americans.
“We’re not satisfied with him, and . . . this hope and change rap has not been a reality for black people,” Baron told AFP during the demonstration.
“We are glad that Barack Obama broke up the white male monopoly on the White House, but we were not looking for a change in the occupant of the White House from white to black, we were looking for change in foreign policies and domestic policies,” he added.
“To have a black person exploiting me just like a white person, that’s no easier pain.”
The group also was calling for the release of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of killing a white police officer and sentenced to death.
The US Supreme Court upheld Abu-Jamal’s conviction in April and rejected his bid for a new trial.
Black Americans voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Obama in last year’s election, when he defeated Republican Senator John McCain.
About 13 percent of US citizens are African-Americans.