Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Losing African-American Support

Saturday, 23 Mar 2013 10:05 AM

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When President Obama said that Rahm Emanuel, his former White House Chief of Staff, would make a fine mayor for Chicago, the city's black voters took him at his word.

Emanuel won the 2011 mayoral race while garnering 59-percent of the black vote.

Now that support appears to be steadily eroding, according to a story on the web site of WLS-TV, Chicago’s ABC affiliate.

Two years into his term, unemployment and school closings are chipping away at a major block in Emanuel's political base.

Many in the African-American community are incensed that most of the schools on the Chicago Public Schools underutilized list are in predominantly black neighborhoods.

“In any city that's as segregated as Chicago, anytime that you destroy black schools and destroy black communities you can't call it anything but racist,” the Executive Director of Action Now, Katelyn Johnson said.

Parents also are dissatisfied with overcrowded classes, something they say doesn’t occur in schools in white neighborhoods.

Emanuel is also being blamed for the rising violent crime rate and high unemployment rates in African-American neighborhoods.

“He came in under the Obama handshake but he won't be given that same luxury in another two years if things don't begin to change,” political consultant Sean Howard said.

Emanuel is not without his defenders.

Chicago Transit Authority Chairman Terry Peterson reminded black voters about the nearly $700 million Emanuel plans to invest in South Side public transit projects.

“That will benefit African American families, the African-American community as well as African American businesses,” Peterson said.

A recent media poll suggested Emanuel's job approval rating had slipped dramatically.

The survey was not broken down by race.

“I think he's going to continue to work hard to garner the African-American community's support,” Peterson said.

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