Why black leaders are not embracing Barack Obama

Regarding Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) virtues as a presidential candidate, the Rev. Al Sharpton hears a lot of media hype but doesn’t see any substance. "I want to know from Sen. Obama where the meat is," he said on MSNBC.

Sharpton insists he has no preconceptions about Obama or any other Democratic candidate. He just wants to know specifics about how he would tackle poverty, racism and the problem of crime and incarceration rates — all traditional civil rights issues.

This upcoming Democratic presidential nomination will make history as the first time an African-American (Obama) and a woman (New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton) have been the major candidates. However, some well-known black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Harry Belafonte have been noncommittal when asked about their support for Obama’s candidacy.

The skepticism about Obama, however, underscores the challenge he could face winning support among black Democrats — a key constituency — during the party's presidential primaries.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll this month of black Democrats found Obama with just 27 percent support compared to Clinton's 53 percent.

A third leading Democratic candidate, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, also has strong support in the black community. He launched his presidential bid in December from New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward, a traditionally black neighborhood decimated by Hurricane Katrina.

With all of this said and done, the real issue here is blatant envy and jealousy. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who both failed in 1980s presidential nominations, fear Obama because he is a threat to their power base. Obama was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2004, a position that Jesse hoped for his son, Rep. Jesse Jr. (D-Ill.), who is now being relegated to the back alley. Obama owes nothing to the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of this world. He has paved his own way for a new time and a new day and therefore cannot be controlled by the caretakers of the plantation.