AUBURN GRESHAM —The Rev. Michael Pfleger contends that political candidates who speak at black churches seeking votes but fail to advertise in black- or Hispanic-owned media are doing nothing more than taking advantage of black churches.
And for that reason Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, is urging black pastors not to allow candidates to get away with it.
"It is disrespectful for [political] candidates to come to churches in the black community and ask to stand in their pulpit and talk for free and ask for votes but fail to spend their money in the black and brown media," Pfleger said at a Wednesday news conference.
He added that there were plenty of black media outlets in Chicago for candidates to choose from such as the Chicago Defender newspaper, WVON AM and the Flowers Communications Group.
"If the African-American community is important to candidates, they should spend their money with the black and brown media. And if they don't, then it means one or two things: Either saying you don't care about the black community or you take them for granted."
Joining Pfleger at St. Sabina Church was Roderick Hawkins, a vice president with the Chicago Urban League, who credited the black press for telling stories about blacks like no one else does.
"Put your money where your mouth is. If you want our vote and our endorsement, then you need to advertise with the black media," Hawkins said. "If candidates want to reach the black community, then they should advertise in a media we have relied on for over a century."
Hawkins said when pollers call black voters asking for their vote those voters should ask if their candidate has advertised with the black media.
"And if they say 'no,' hang up the phone," Hawkins said.
Tio Hardiman, a gubernatorial candidate who attended the news conference, said he had and would continue to advertise with the black media. Previously, Hardiman was director of Ceasefire Illinois, an anti-violence nonprofit.
"I have advertised with the North Lawndale Community News and WVON and plan to advertise with more black press before the election," Hardiman said. "For the first time in the history of Illinois there is an all-black team running for governor and lieutenant governor. So if we are going to make history next month, I want to make sure the black media played a part in our success."
Reinvesting in the black community is important to us and it shows voters their commitments, said the Rev. Janette Wilson, a senior adviser with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
"The highest unemployment rate is in the black community. And the most food deserts are in black communities. That, there, shows the need for candidates to spend money that will benefit the black community," Wilson said. "And if candidates cannot see that, then they are disconnected from reality and will be disconnected from the black community if elected."