Black Voters in Tennessee Not Falling for Trump’s Message

September 7, 2016 — Adjunct professor Gerald Green, 60, plays "Ball of Confusion," by The Temptations during his Intro to American Government class at LeMoyne-Owen College on Wednesday. "There are a few songs in oratory that I think are very important in American history and give insight into it," Green said. "Today, I played The Temptations' 'Ball of Confusion'. It talks about many of the issues that government has to deal with and unraveling the ball of confusion I think is the function of the government. (Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)
September 7, 2016 — Adjunct professor Gerald Green, 60, plays “Ball of Confusion,” by The Temptations during his Intro to American Government class at LeMoyne-Owen College on Wednesday. “There are a few songs in oratory that I think are very important in American history and give insight into it,” Green said. “Today, I played The Temptations’ ‘Ball of Confusion’. It talks about many of the issues that government has to deal with and unraveling the ball of confusion I think is the function of the government. (Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)

Early in each semester, Gerald Green, an adjunct professor at LeMoyne-Owen College, hauls a small boombox to class and plays the 1971 Temptations hit “Ball of Confusion” for his American government students.

That song, with its references to racism, war and “cities ablaze on the summertime” is as relevant today as it was 45 years ago in the discussion on government’s role in unraveling the ball, said Green, an attorney who also teaches criminal justice and political science.

But a line in that song — “Vote for me and I’ll set you free! Rap on brother, rap on” — epitomizes the sincerity some see in Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s outreach to Africa-American voters.

In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain got 4 percent of the black vote compared with President Barack Obama’s 95 percent. Four years later, Republican nominee Mitt Romney bested McCain by pulling in 6 percent of the black vote.

Recent polls show Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with an 80 percent favorable rating among African-Americans.

“I think she is the best choice between the two of them. She is very well qualified, she has worked her way up to this point. She has been through the ranks,” Sadie Heaston, a retired teacher, said. “We’ll get two-for- one or three-for-one. She has expertise plus her husband has expertise. And our president, who I have confidence in, endorsed her. I think she will get his help as well.”

Meanwhile, polls have put Trump’s favorable ratings with African-American voters at anywhere from 0-to-2 percent.

And despite what would appear to be insurmountable odds, Trump continues to campaign as if he can swing a significant percentage of black voters.

Trump is trying, visiting majority-black Jackson, Mississippi, an African-American church in Detroit and speaking to black parents and students at a charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday.

That’s not what resonates with voters.

“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said late last month while addressing a nearly all-white audience in Ohio.

It’s that kind of rhetoric that has professional political observers, political insiders and random African-Americans questioning the real estate mogul’s credibility and his knowledge about the African-American community.

“I’ll just say the black experience is a beautiful experience. I grew up in South Memphis, I go to a black church, I live in my own black community and black life is a beautiful life if you live it in accordance with your faith and in peace with everybody else,” said Robert Hill, a minister and the executive director of governmental and legislative affairs in the Shelby County Trustee’s office.

Trump wasn’t the best Republican option for mainstream America, said Hill, who is active in Shelby County Republican politics and plans to write-in a vote for Gov. Bill Haslam.

He won’t vote for Trump, and he doesn’t talk to other African-American Republicans about their party’s nominee.

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Source: The Commercial Appeal | Linda A. Moore