IF ORGANIZERS OF an African-American political convention hope to convene their gathering in St. Louis, they will have to proceed without the blessings of Rep. William L. Clay and Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr.
Both Clay, D-St. Louis, and Bosley said the convention could undermine black elected officials and even backfire during an election season. Organizers plan to hold the gathering in late August or in early September just after the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions.
"I won't be a party to it," Clay said. "We don't need a black political convention with people talking about a third party to energize people. What it will really do is put us in a position that threatens the re-election of President (Bill) Clinton."
Bosley, a Democrat, said that he, too, wasn't excited about the prospect of black leaders convening outside the banner of a political party. Bosley said he would rather see the issues of most concern to African-Americans taken up at the Democratic convention, which will be held in Chicago Aug. 26-29.
"At the end of the day, when it's all said and done, who do people look to for help but to their elected officials," Bosley said.
The African-American convention is being planned by black political scientists and activists to build on successes of the Million Man March in Washington in October. In that gathering, nearly 2,000 St. Louisans were among hundreds of thousands of black men who rallied at the U.S. Capitol for purposes more spiritual than political.
St. Louis, Detroit and Memphis are cities mentioned by planners as a location for the African-American convention. …