“As far as I'm concerned, the Democratic Party is not pro-African American,” said Rev. Bill Owens, president of the Coalition of African American Pastors.
Owens told CNA that African Americans in the U.S. are used as “pawns” because they automatically assume that the Democratic Party supports their interests.
But if Democrats truly have the interests of the black community at heart, and if African Americans consistently vote the Democratic ticket, he asked, “why are we in such bad shape?”
Owens said that the major issues facing the African American community today are education, jobs and abortion.
“We have more young men in prison than in college,” he said, explaining that African Americans are “behind every group in the country” as far as education, even falling behind groups that come to the U.S. from other nations.
“We're losing our young men to gangs,” he added, and “culturally, we're slipping behind.”
Underlying all of these problems, Owens said, is the sad truth that “we have lost the family.”
“If the family were intact, we wouldn't have so many of our young men in prison,” he said, noting that young men often join gangs when they do not have strong families and faith communities.
“Education would be much better,” he added.
Owens recalled that when he participated in the civil rights movement, there were more black families together than white families.
“But now the family has disintegrated,” he said.
President Barack Obama is the first leader that Owens has ever publicly spoken out against. He said that he is extremely concerned about the implications of the president's positions, including his unprecedented support for “gay marriage,” on black families.
Owens joined other family advocates in warning that “gay marriage” renders both mothers and fathers optional and unnecessary.
With the black family already weakened and vulnerable, he said, the African American community will be especially harmed by efforts to redefine marriage.
He also observed that the black community has voted against “gay marriage” at every opportunity.
Owens said that the Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted.
He explained that he and a group of pastors had invited Obama to a dialogue about important issues within the black community but “he didn't give us the courtesy of an answer,” despite the fact that his predecessor had agreed to meet with the group.
While there is a need for “dialogue” with both parities, he said, the Democratic Party's 2012 platform, which endorses a redefinition of marriage for the first time in history, raises particular concerns.
Owens said that he loves homosexual people. However, he explained, respecting individuals and redefining the most basic building block of society are two separate things.
Pointing to already struggling black families, he stressed that redefining marriage would be particularly detrimental to the African American community.
“We're going to be harmed more than anybody,” he said.
As delegates at the Democratic National Convention celebrated the party's decision to reiterate its support for abortion and officially endorse “gay marriage,” an African American leader said that these policies harm the black community.