We continue to mourn the passing of one of the most ardent supporters of progressive ideas and values in Jesse Helms. Anyways, we really remember Jesse Helms mostly for his race baiting, opposition to funding for the Arts, opposition to funding for AIDS and his challenges in the 1990's by Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt where the race card was played.
This race was one of my earliest memories of electoral politics and the nastiness in political ads. I also remember being betrayed when world basketball superstar and businessman Michael Jordan failed to endorse the liberal Progressive Black Mayor of Charlotte over the icon of Republican Rural Values and Antagonistic Ideas in Jesse Helms. He simply said when asked for his endorsement of Gantt , "Republicans Wear Sneakers Too."
I was real interested to find out if anyone replayed this comment or if Jordan every issued an apology, etc. I found this spoof article this morning regarding Jordan learning of the passing of Helms. About a decade or two late this endorsement would have been. click here to read article
"What I said was true - Republicans buy sneakers. And usually full retail. But I've since realized that there are more important things than money, or market share or the Jordan brand."
Later in the article Jordan also said,
"A number of years back, I was in Raleigh at some function and I was introduced to the Senator. 'Hello Senator Helms, nice to meet you,' I say, offering my hand. He looks up at me, sizes up my hand, and smiles like he's addressing the help back at the plantation: 'Nice to meet you too, Fred.' I'm like, Fred, huh? No, it's Michael, Michael Jordan, the basketball player. He just goes, 'Nice to meet you Fred.' That's one crazy mother (muffled)."
Someone later told Jordan that Helms had a "humorous habit" of calling all black people "Fred."
"Yeah, humorous. Hilarious. It was then that I realized I made a mistake, I should have come out to support the brother. Let him know, if he runs again, give my office a call, we'll hit the campaign up with all the Air Jordans and Jordan brand apparel they need. On the house. It would be my honor to be the official sponsor - along with Gatorade and Hanes -- of Harvey Gantt's next campaign."
I certainly found that spoof article rather humorous. I do reflect upon what might have been had Jordan actually supported Gannt. Would he have finally ended the career of this homophobic, racist bastion of the Republican Party in the South? At the time, pundits believed that MJ's endorsement would have mattered.
Or maybe they were just finding a way to criticize the golden one.
Either way these are just my reflections on the Jesse Helms/ Harvey Gantt election that may or may not have changed politics in this country.
I find it interesting to note that in 2008 we have several celebrities and sports personalities that have gotten involved in the Presidential election. Did that really change anyone's opinions? Certainly these endorsements are helpful in raising money and gaining suport, but in terms of moving the electorate to vote a certain way that remains to be seen. I certainly think in North Carolina in 1990 and 1996 Harvey Gannt would have picked up some support with MJ's endorsement.
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