New Black Panther Malik Shabazz: Obama Evoked Tenets of Black Liberation Theology in Selma


Today, Andrew Breitbart published some photographs of an event in March 2007 where Senator and candidate Barack Obama shared a stage with Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party.

It was not, as the mainstream media wants to believe, a mere coincidence. Certainly not to Malik Shabazz himself.

It may be difficult to appreciate now, but at the time of that event, Senator Obama was still considered a long shot for the White House. Hillary Clinton was still ahead in the polls, and had already secured endorsements from civil rights icons like Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

Meanwhile, Obama’s support among black Americans was weak. Just a few weeks before the event with the Panthers, Steve Kroft of CBS’s 60 Minutes had noted that some black voters were openly questioning Obama’s racial authenticity saying, “There are African-Americans who don’t think that you’re black enough, who don’t think that you have had the required experience.” Obama smiled at such dismissals, but it was clear he had work to do.

Obama’s trip to Selma was obviously intended as a solution to the problem. There, he was able to stake a claim to the mantle of the civil rights movement by participating in the annual remembrance of the famous ’65 march with Rep. Lewis.

“Don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama,” Obama told the audience inside the Brown Chapel A.M.E. church.”

He also said: “I must send greetings from Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. but I got a letter giving me encouragement and saying how proud he was that I had announced and encouraging me to stay true to my ideals and my values and not to be fearful.”

And as the pictures Big Government published this morning show, Obama also shared a podium outside with Shabazz and others.

I did find a radio interview Shabazz gave in May 2008 in which he reflects on his interaction with Obama in Selma. Some of the things he says about Obama are pretty interesting:

[youtube N2bd3812VRc nolink]

Aside from the confirmation that Shabazz did meet Obama in Selma, I’ll just highlight this bit of the conversation:

Question: What is it that he said either in Selma, Alabama or that you’ve seen him say recently that particularly pleased you?

Malik Shabazz: Well, when he was in Selma, when he spoke at the black church there and he was able to again draw out of the tenets of black liberation theology. Because he was teaching about the story of [inaudible – Jesus?] and Moses and Pharaoh and the children of Israel and the Pharaoh as it is written in the Torah or the Old Testament. And he was drawing the comparison to the struggle for justice through slavery here in America and comparing us to the children of Israel. And so I knew that he had a…a based in some sound theology that is rooted in our community. And at that point I knew that he…he understood what was going on.

Shabazz goes on to say “God is with this man.”

If you’re interested in hearing the speech Obama gave inside the AME Church in Selma, the one Shabazz is commenting on, it was broadcast by C-SPAN and can be viewed here.

Observers have speculated on Obama’s connection to black liberation theology since Reverend Wright came on the scene, but Shabazz is one more voice confirming that Obama does have an affinity for that viewpoint or, at the very least, understands it well enough to give a convincing sermon based on its tenets–one understood by its audience as such.


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