What to Make of the Sharpton/West/Obama Divide? Dr. Boyce and Dr. Wilmer Leon Break it Down


Quick note from Dr. Boyce:  After watching the recent blow up between Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Al Sharpton over the Obama presidency, I felt it important to bring some knowledge and common sense to the discussion.  So, I reached out to Dr. Wilmer Leon, who is one of the most respected experts in black politics and political science in the country.  Dr. Leon teaches at Howard University and is also the host of “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon” on Sirius 820/XM 169, “The Power.”

The interview (you can also watch by clicking here) starts a few minutes in (chalk it up to technical difficulties, as this is our first attempt at this).  But when the conversation begins, Dr. Leon starts by explaining that the presidency is typically defined by two things:  The personality of the president and events that occur while he/she is in office.  As you tune in, Dr. Leon is giving examples of prior presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, who were willing to be confrontational in order to get things done.   Dr. Leon seems to imply that President Obama’s non-confrontational personality and inclination to be a consensus seeker can be an asset at times, but a liability when dealing with Republicans who are refusing to work with him.

The video is below, and even though the video quality is not as high as I’d like for it to be, it was still worth the conversation because the knowledge is quite valuable.  Check it out!

To receive Dr. Boyce Watkins commentary in your email, please click here. 



Filed under African Americans

16 responses to “What to Make of the Sharpton/West/Obama Divide? Dr. Boyce and Dr. Wilmer Leon Break it Down

  1. Pingback: Dr. Wilmer Leon Breaks Down the Divide Between Cornel West and Al Sharpton « Black News for black people

  2. Pingback: What to Make of the Obama/West/Sharpton Divide in Black Leadership? Dr. Wilmer Leon Explain « Black Politics for Black Americans

  3. Pingback: What to Make of the Obama/West/Sharpton Divide in Black Leadership? Dr. Wilmer Leon Explain « Black Politics in Black America

  4. Pingback: What to Make of the Obama/West/Sharpton Divide in Black Leadership? Dr. Wilmer Leon Explain « Black Public Scholars

  5. A rather profound insight on the nature of personality driven organizations and institutionalized organizations. Also, Dr. Wilmer hit it on the head with his contention that the question is not so much what has President Obama done for the African American community, but rather what has the African American taken to the streets to demand that he do for their community.

  6. Thank you Dr. Watkins for this and the quality didn’t overshadow what was discussed. I especially like the framework of personality driven institutions and those that are operated independently of their spokespersons.

    The extremes that are operating now and how we view this Presidency was clarified for those of us who were so ambivalent about his achievements and

    Please continue with the video conference calls..they will get better!

  7. Dr. Watkins, I enjoyed hearing Dr. Leons perspective on Presined Obama. He really brought raised some interesting questions. I would like to know more about the content of the health care bill and how it is being administered to the masses? HELP HELP HELP.

  8. God's_Angel

    The squeaky wheel has always gotten the grease. And black folks don’t squeak nearly as loud as we used to.

    And I didn’t think President Obama would do much for black folks in his first term. If he did, he wouldn’t get re-elected. But I expect him to do much more in his second term.

    And I also expect more black folks to be vocal about what we need. I feel like we are sheep without a shephard. And the leaders trying to be shephards are not leading enough of the sheep, because not enough sheep trust the current “shephard-in-training”. They look at them as wolves in shephards clothing.

  9. Road Warrior

    Think of President Obama like Danny Glover in Silverado. A posse was chasing 3 riders (Costner, Glenn & Kline) and Glover was up in the hills and shot the rocks from under the feet of the posse sharpshooter and shot the hat off the Sheriff. The Deputy said lets go get ’em he ain’t hit nuthin’! The Sheriff said, “He’s hit everything he’s aimed at!” … then turned around and rode back to town. President Obama has his own time-table and so far he has accomplished more than any President since FDR.


    I enjoyed listening to Dr. Leon’s comments on President Obama. I paid close attention to the remarks about Obama’s “non-confrontational,…consensus seeking” personality. If what Dr. Leon supports as a true assessment of the president, then his supporters and co-workers in Congress may do well to reduce conflicts and meet on common ground. In the last presidential election, the majority of the country voted for change and a vision that Americans can work as one team. We can change whatever we want by changing our heart. We can change our heart, if we change our mind.

  11. The Art of Compromise …

  12. Shango

    There is nothing of quality public policy that will be coming out of any White House. African people must unite.

  13. John Houston

    I enjoyed listening to the conversation concerning President Obama. I live in a small city in the south and I have been trying to get white people to discuss why they don”t like blacks. No one will come out and say why they don’t like us. I really want to hear some of them say why. Despite President Obama”s policies, he has been the most disrespected president of all times. I believe that is only because he is black, yet no white person will come out and say it. I am currently writing a fiction novel to discuss this subject concerning blacks and whites as it pertains to GOD. I know I got off the subject matter but I really want whites to discuss why they feel the way they do.

  14. Jan Ramsey

    A wonderful and very insightful video. We owe it to ourselves and our children to carry on Dr King’s legacy. We’ve come too far to turn around now. I agree with Dr Leon, it is encumbent on us to take The Black Agenda to the White House along with our Black Leaders in a nonconfrontational but firm manner.

  15. rudyabdul

    I enjoyed listening to Dr. Leon’s comments on President Obama, especially to the remarks about Obama’s “non-confrontational,…consensus seeking” personality. However, he falls short on really understanding Obama’s presidency. Dr Leon, needs to take a look deeper into his presidency instead of seeing only the surface, study his policies, why he surrounds himself with certain people and why Guantanamo Bay hasn’t been closed. He needs to study the bills he have signed into law and his executive orders he has given in the past 2 years, many geared toward the black community in a positive way. When he does that (I seriously doubt it), like Al, he will began see Obama different light.

  16. Jana

    You left out the most important Player in this entire senario “Tavis Smiley” Cornell West Right hand man and partner in crime.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. Cornell and Tavis have been silent through 44 Presidents, but until NOW…………………………………………….

    All that envy and Willie Lynch Theory is showing in these brothers.

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