Listen: Black vote and Jimmy Carter-Walter Mondale ticket

MPR’s Kate Williams talks with Black residents in St. Paul’s Selby-Dale community about their views of the Jimmy Carter-Walter Mondale presiditional ticket.


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KATE WILLIAMS: Traditionally, black voter registration has been low. But since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ended discriminatory registration policies, the Black vote has become an important part of the political process. Georgia Congressman Andrew Young, the first Black Southern Congressman elected since reconstruction, is vigorously campaigning for Carter, trying to convince the nation's Blacks that Carter is a Southern White man who can be trusted.

Vice presidential candidate, Senator Walter Mondale, is favored by many Black national leaders for his positive record as a defender of civil rights. Over the years, Black organizations have worked hard to get Blacks registered, but there are still many who are unregistered. Characteristically, the Selby Dale area in Saint Paul, one of Minnesota's few Black communities, has a low voter turnout.

Why haven't you registered?

SPEAKER: I don't know. I guess just not really interested in what they all have to say because a lot of times they ain't talking about nothing anyway.

SPEAKER: They voted my house out the vote I ain't going out of my way to vote.

SPEAKER: I don't vote.


SPEAKER: I see no need.

SPEAKER: Just like I said, nobody trust the American White man.

SPEAKER: Most of these people are parents just struggling to survive. They're not going to be worried about getting out there, getting no polls. They're going to be worrying about what they're going to get their next dollar or so, where they can feed their families and things that.

KATE WILLIAMS: One of the organizations in the Selby Dale community that's worked to get people out to the polls is the Saint Paul Urban League. League Director William A. Wilson said that in recent city elections, more Saint Paul Blacks have voted than in previous years.

WILLIAM A. WILSON: Well, I think that people now in the community are beginning to realize that it is important that we vote, and that it is not futile. Because if we are ever to have any type of impact on what's being done in our communities, on the quality of the lives that we are currently leading, we must go to the polls and vote. So my impression, based on the work we've done, and we did go door to door and talk to people and register them right on the spot, is that they will go out and vote in November.

KATE WILLIAMS: Inner city Youth League Director, Bobby Hickman, blamed Watergate for much of the community disaffection with the political system.

BOBBY HICKMAN: People are turned off, it's true. But I think that for our own good, that we just can't stay turned off because there are no alternatives. If Black people around this country decide to participate this time, and, you know, I'm not hung up on that business about, well, if all Blacks vote and they vote positive or democrat, then they're going to swing it for Jimmy, and then he's going to be owing up a favor, I don't prefer to even look at it like that. I just think that based on what the man said, the best way to make him be truthful, and he's asking people to trust him, is to participate so that he can see that, hey, we got involved.

KATE WILLIAMS: Did you vote in the last presidential election?

SPEAKER: No, I didn't.

KATE WILLIAMS: Are you going to vote this year?

SPEAKER: Yes, I am.

KATE WILLIAMS: Who do you think you'll vote for?

SPEAKER: Carter.

KATE WILLIAMS: Why are you voting for Carter?

SPEAKER: Because I like the talk that he's talking. He's really saying like he's for the poor peoples, you know, the people of this town.

KATE WILLIAMS: Who are you going to vote for?

SPEAKER: Carter-Mondale.


SPEAKER: Well, because I think Carter, he'll be all right because he's not connected with all the people that are already established in Washington. And Mondale, he's always been for us. When I say for us, I mean oppressed people.

SPEAKER: I don't think anything. I don't believe in the political system. So Carter-Mondale, bah.

SPEAKER: Mondale is White. Birds of a feather flock together. Once Mondale gets into office, it's just like a poor person. He feels the same way other poor people does until he gets rich. And once he gets rich, he's changed his way of thinking. Mondale is from Minnesota. He may feel like a Minnesotan. But after he gets into office, he's going to change.

SPEAKER: Politically there's not really that big of a difference between the republican, whether it's Ford or Reagan or whether it's Carter or whoever. Fundamentally, they are committed to the same process.

KATE WILLIAMS: Selby Dale is typical of many Black communities across the nation, and although Carter has substantial Black support now, it is clear that many Black voters are still waiting to be persuaded that it's worth their while to vote. This is Kate Williams.

SPEAKER: Carter.


SPEAKER: I feel that he's going to give us a better break being Black people, you know. Because like the other president, I mean, man, he really messed us around. He did. So I feel that Carter gave the Black people and the minority a little better break.

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