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Was Mayor Williams snubbed?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published February 26, 2008

When Barack Obama appeared on the campus of Youngstown State University, more than 6,000 people roared their approval as he stepped on stage in Beeghly Center. Obama had been introduced by a white woman holding a white child, an indication that his campaign is attracting Americans of all races.

But when Obama began his address, he made general reference to YSU officials and area politicians who were in the audience. Perhaps that's his modus operandi.

But wouldn't you think that the son of a black father and a white mother who could well make history by being the first African-American to be the presidential nominee of a major party would want to acknowledge another African-American who has made political history?

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams and his wife, Sonja, were in the audience, but were not acknowledged by the Democratic candidate.

Williams, as is now nationally known, made history when he was elected mayor in 2005. He added to that record by being the first independent candidate to win in more than 80 years.

Thus the question: Why would Obama fail to recognize an individual who has blazed a political trail in the Mahoning Valley? 

It could well be that he just doesn't see anything to be gained by acknowledging local politicians. Or, a cynic might suggest that Obama, aware of the racial divide that still exists in many parts of this country, did not want to focus attention on the race factor. 

Regardless, his failure to do so struck at least one Youngstown resident as odd.

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