'Personal insult' for Obama if black Americans don't vote Clinton

U.S. President Barack Obama © Yuri Gripas
President Barack Obama told a predominantly black audience it would be a “personal insult” if they don’t back Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the November presidential elections.

Speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner on Saturday night, Obama said he would take it as an “insult to [his] legacy” if there isn’t a strong black turnout for Clinton.

"My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot," he said. "Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot, ending mass incarceration, that’s on the ballot right now.”

Obama used the civil rights movement and the struggle to enable African Americans to get the vote to remind the audience of the importance of casting their ballots.

“I am reminded of all those folks who had to count bubbles in a bar of soap, beaten trying to register voters in Mississippi,” he said. “Risked everything so that they could pull that lever. So, if I hear anybody saying their vote does not matter, that it doesn't matter who we elect, read up on your history. It matters.”

The president pressed the crowd to give him a good send-off by registering people to vote. “If you care about our legacy, realize everything we stand for is at stake, on the progress we have made is at stake in this election,” he said.

Obama attacked Republican candidate Donald Trump’s claim that black Americans have “nothing to lose” in voting for Trump over Clinton.  “[Trump] says we’ve got nothing left to lose, so we might as well support somebody who has fought against civil rights and fought against equality and who has shown no regard for working people for most of his life,” Obama said. “Well, we do have challenges. But we’re not stupid.”

Obama has been criticized for failing to do enough for black Americans during his presidency. Many Americans feel that the first black president has failed to make enough progress for the black community. The founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, numerous examples of police brutality against black people, and a lack of employment opportunities have been cited indications that Obama has not done enough.

On the other hand, Obama has been commended for granting clemency to prisoners charged with minor offences, and has recently announced the phasing out of the so-called, for profit prisons. Obama pushed for a $75 million police body camera program in response to the police killings of unarmed black men, and created initiatives to support black youths.

Clinton also spoke at the event, where she received the Trailblazer award for being the first female presidential candidate for a major US political party. She praised the Obama family and dismissed Trump’s ‘birther’ comments.

Obama joked with the crowd about Trump’s declaration that Obama was in fact born in the US. The billionaire businessman recently convened a press conference to announce that he no longer believes Obama was not born in America.

“There’s an extra spring in my step tonight. I don’t know about you guys, but I am so relieved that the whole birther thing is over,” Obama said. “I mean, ISIL, North Korea, poverty, climate change ― none of those things weighed on my mind like the validity of my birth certificate. And to think that with just 124 days to go, under the wire we got that resolved. That’s a boost for me in the home stretch.”