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03 August 2010

Democrat Roy Barnes Lost Several Votes For Governor Monday Night

Eighteen years ago, my mother introduced me to the world of politics when she took me with her to vote in the 1992 presidential election. I remember standing between my mother's legs as we both turned the pages of the ballot and she let me punch the holes in those old punchcards with the hanging chads. Later on that evening, we watched the election results on television as my mother gave me a lesson on the electoral college and how the President is really elected.

. . . I'm wondering how many other black voters like my mother were so put off by Roy Barnes avoiding Obama that they now will not support him at the ballot box.

From that point forward, political discussions became the norm in the Walker household. Even to this day, as I've become more conservative in my politics than my mother, we still discuss and debate politics although we disagree more often than not.

Monday night, I spoke with my mother about President Obama's visit to Atlanta. She said she saw the speech, and thought it was good that the President focused on veterans' issues. Then she brought up the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Roy Barnes. My mother said she wasn't too happy that Barnes "lied on the President" about being invited to either the speech before the Disabled American Veterans or the Democratic National Committee fundraiser. My mother said that while she won't be voting Republican, she will not vote for Barnes. In other words, she's skipping the gubernatorial election and she's encouraging her friends, her family to do the same.

When I heard my mother say that, I started thinking to myself, "Roy Barnes is in trouble." And this is why:

My mother, Betty Walker, is not an "ordinary" voter.

She was a community organizer in Macon, Georgia long before Barack Obama made it popular. I've heard the stories so many times of how, in 1963 and 1964, she took groups of blacks to the Bibb County Courthouse so they could register to vote. I've heard the stories of how she, herself, had to read a section of the Constitution before adding her name to the voter rolls. And more importantly, I've seen the stories in print.

Betty Walker. The eleven-year-old child who had her dream of Mercer fulfilled but had not dreamed just what it would be like. She lived it all, and more. "Black and white together" was pivotal for her. When "the Movement" flirted with, and sometimes embraced, separatism and "Whitey has got to go," she harbored transcendence. It was she, along with Ed Bacon, who led the Poor People's March through Macon, braving the most tumultuous day and night of that city's racial history.

Campbell, Will D. The Stem of Jesse: The Costs of Community at a 1960's Southern School. 1st ed. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1994. Print.

When a civil rights leader in her own right says she's not voting for Democrat Roy Barnes because she believes that he lied on her President, Roy Barnes has some serious problems.

And the reason why I can say that with confidence is because I know my mother's network.

She attended high school with Bibb County Chief Magistrate Judge Bill Randall. She got her first job from Judge Randall's father, William P. Randall. She remembers when state Representative Nikki Randall was born. In addition, my mother knows folks who used to take care of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed when he was a child.

Do you see the point I'm making here?

If you do, then you now know why I'm suddenly nervous about Roy Barnes' chances of victory in November. If you do, then you now know why I'm wondering how many other black voters like my mother were so put off by Roy Barnes avoiding Obama that they now will not support him at the ballot box.

Suddenly, I'm concerned.