Number of Black Convention Delegates on the Rise

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  • If you scanned the crowds last week at the Republican National Convention looking for the faces of African-American delegates, they may have been difficult to find.

    Only 47 African-Americans served as delegates to the Republican National Convention last week in Tampa, Fla., out of a total of 2,286, according to data from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

    In Charlotte, N.C., this week, 1,452 African-American delegates are among the 5,551 gathered for the Democratic National Convention, according to data from the Washington, D.C.–based think tank.

    The Republican Party data was released at the start of the GOP convention and the Democratic data was released this week, with both sets showing an overall increase in participation of African-Americans, a key political demographic leading to the November presidential election.

    The GOP last week increased the participation of African-Americans at the conference podium with key speeches from politicians such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Congressional candidate Mia Love of Utah and former Democratic congressman Artur Davis, who left Alabama and switched parties after losing his bid to become that state’s first black governor.

    At the Democratic conference, African-Americans have been at the forefront on the podium and in leadership positions behind the scenes.

    Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the AME Church is co-chair of the credentials committee, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is co-chair of the Platform Committee, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris is co-chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Also continuing in the mix with leadership is Donna Brazile, the DNC vice chair, and Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the DNC.
    The 47 black delegates to the 2012 GOP convention is an increase over the 38 at the 2008 convention, but only 2.1 percent of the total. In 2004, the participation of blacks at the GOP convention hit a record with a total of 165 or 6.6 percent of the total. This year, there are 18 states that had no black Republican delegates at the convention.

    African-Americans have represented a substantial percentage of delegates at the Democratic National Convention in recent years, including this year with 1,452 black delegates that make up 26.2 percent of the total. This compares to 24.3 percent in 2008 and 20. All states have at least one black Democratic delegate at the convention this year compared to two states with no black delegates in 2008 and six states in 2004.

    Both the Democratic and Republican reports were authored by David Bositis, senior research associate with The Joint Center, founded in 1970. Bositis has been the author of the Democratic and Republican Convention Guides since 1992, and also has led the Joint Center’s political research unit, generating polls and analyses of all aspects of black political participation.
     

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