Originally posted by Nadir at LastChocolateCity.com
Billed as the biggest sit down dinner in the world, the 52nd Annual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner attracted 10,000 to Detroit’Â€Â™s Cobo Hall on April 29. Dinner itself was unremarkable. (Reports confirm that each entree – cajun beef, some unidentified fish or a mushroom pasta – was equally mediocre.)
What was most important about this dinner though was the guest list. The governor, both of Michigan’Â€Â™s US senators, several congress members, the mayor and other public officials, business and union leaders, entrepreneurs and preachers all joined grassroots activists to honor and support the nation’Â€Â™s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
During the three and a half hour event, Lifetime Achievement awards were given to Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, attorney and politician Joel Ferguson and former NAACP head Ernest Lofton. But the main attraction was the keynote address from the man described by several of the night’Â€Â™s speakers as “Â€Âœour president”Â€Â, William Jefferson Clinton.
In spite of the evidence that his administration wasn’Â€Â™t very good for African America, Black folks love Bill Clinton. Forget Barack Obama’s potential ascension to the Oval Office in 2008. The title “first Black President” has already been bestowed on the very light-skinned former governor of Arkansas.
History shows that more Black men were incarcerated, the job-stealing NAFTA agreement was signed, and an aspirin factory in Sudan was bombed all during Clinton’s presidency. He continued Bush Sr.’Â€Â™s war against Iraq, which set up Bush Jr.’Â€Â™s invasion. He planned the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taleban before 9/11, but couldn’Â€Â™t secure the basing rights in Turkistan and Uzbekistan needed to carry it out. Still he is loved and missed as leader of the free world.
It’Â€Â™s unfair to compare Clinton to Bush Jr. America’s worst presidents – James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover – look like geniuses next to Dubya.
Last Chocolate City contributor Tommy Gibbs uses a Detroit sports analogy to explain America’Â€Â™s love for Slick Willie. All US presidents are like the Detroit Lions. They suck. There may be some promise during the pre-season (the campaign), and you root for them because they are the home team, but when it comes down to it, they are always terrible.
According to Tommy Gibbs, Bill Clinton is the Barry Sanders-era Detroit Lions. The team itself was still terrible, but they were watchable because at any moment Barry might break one of those spectacular runs that made you forget how bad the rest of the team was.
This is Bill Clinton. He could sell blocks of ice in the Arctic and salt water at the Dead Sea. Clinton often gets credit for the econmic boom that occured during his tenure, and letÃ¢Â€Â™s face it, heÃ¢Â€Â™s an intelligent and likeable guy. You gotta love him, no matter what his record looks like. Especially when compared to the idiot who is in the office now.
Bill Clinton did not disappoint his many admirers at the Fight for Freedom dinner. After several lengthy speeches had lulled the crowd into a haze, Clinton was brief, witty and relevant. This wasn’Â€Â™t a Hillary campaign speech, as many of us expected. Clinton listed three initiatives that he wanted Detroit’s NAACP to focus on for the future.
1. Fight the scourge of predatory lending. According to the former president, payday loan establishments outnumber McDonaldÃ¢Â€Â™s franchises in the US. “This economy of ours has been great for me and for several of you, but it’Â€Â™s not been such a good deal for a lot of people,”Â€Â he said. “More people are working and losing their family’Â€Â™s health insurance. More people are working and falling below the poverty line.”Â€Â
2. Work to reduce diabetes and obesity. “The next president and Congress can give you quality, affordable health care,”Â€Â Clinton said. “But in ten years we’Â€Â™ll be right where we are now, if we don’t do something about the rising tide of childhood obesity and diabetes among our children, it is threatening our future.”Â€Â Clinton remarked that his outlook on life was changed after he nearly died. Last year, the former president underwent heart surgery. He blamed his heart disease on his life-long love of Southern cooking.
3. After a visit to Tech Town, Clinton urged the NAACP to support Governor Jennifer Granholm and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in their efforts to create Michigan jobs centered around energy efficiency and a greener America. Clinton’Â€Â™s point was that you can’Â€Â™t outsource window replacement or the laying of sod on a roof in and effort to keep the building cooler.
The NAACP has been struggling for many years, with stagnant membership, leadership controversies and questions about the organization’Â€Â™s relevance. Many argue that the 98 year-old civil rights group is obsolete. Like America, the NAACP is facing a crisis of leadership and is at a crossroads in its history.
Bill Clinton reminded the group that there is still much work to be done, and as a good leader should, he offered guidance and direction. Hillary’Â€Â™s campaign for the presidency is fueled by Bill’s energy and the promise of his return to the White House. Maybe Matt Millen and The Detroit Lions should pay Clinton to come and speak to the players and the administration. If nothing else, he would make them feel better about losing.