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"40% of Delgates at the DNC are minorities."


Diversity much in evidence

Tue Jul 27, 9:40 AM ET Add Top Stories - Chicago Tribune to My Yahoo!

By Dahleen Glanton Tribune national correspondent

Joann Kauffman came to the Democratic National Convention this week with many issues on her mind.

As a social worker, she is worried about the lack of adequate health care for the poor. As a Native American, she wants a stronger relationship between the government and Indian tribes. As an American, she is concerned about the national debt that will fall on her children and grandchildren.

And as a delegate, Kauffman said she plans to put John Kerry (news - web sites) in the White House and do something about those worries.

"Native Americans are working-class people, and we are very vulnerable to the policies the Bush administration has adopted," she said. "We have issues regarding the federal government's respect for our treaties, but our biggest concerns are the same as all Americans."

Kauffman, 51, of Spokane, Wash., reflects a broader trend among the delegates. A record number of minorities--almost 40 percent--are delegates at this year's convention, according to organizers. All of them bringing specific issues to the table.

Among the 4,353 delegates and 611 alternates, 20 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, 4 percent are Asian-Pacific and 2 percent are Native American. Sixty-one percent are white; nearly 50 percent are women.

But for all the diversity, the issues attracting the most attention among the ethnic groups are the ones at the top of almost every American's list: the economy, Iraq (news - web sites) and national security.

"While numbers are up regarding participation of different ethnic groups, everyone shares the same concerns and drive," said Mona Pasquil, director of community outreach for the Kerry campaign. "These are issues that resonate with all people, all constituencies, and all Americans."

The diversity is no accident. While Democratic conventions have long attracted large numbers of African-Americans--the party's most reliable constituents--the representation of other groups has increased, largely due to diversity goals set at the state level, according to Pasquil. Each state is required to have a diverse delegate selection plan that is approved by the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites).

Hispanics are becoming more involved in the party, although their representation at the convention is slightly lower than the 14 percent of the population they comprise based on the latest census, said David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington.

"A third of Hispanics in the country are not citizens and cannot vote, and the Hispanic population is extremely young," said Bositis, who has studied voting trends among minorities. "But overall, the numbers at the convention are reflective of America. And compared to Republicans, they are extremely reflective of America."

On Monday, many of the ethnic groups held individual caucuses in a downtown Boston hotel. During the two-hour sessions, Native Americans talked about tribal sovereignty, an issue they say the Bush administration has failed to address.

"President Bush (news - web sites) has never issued a policy statement regarding Native American tribes, even though it was a tradition that was started by President Nixon. Every president has done it except Bush," said Harold Frank, 58, of Blackwell, Wis., who is chairman of the Potawatomi Tribe. "We need to elect someone who will carry on that tradition."

Down the hall, hundreds of African-Americans gathered in a ballroom for a pep rally-style meeting that included discussions on topics such as education, jobs and affirmative action as well as comments from U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama of Illinois.

"Democrats succeed when they reach out to other people, but don't forget the base. And this is the base," Obama told the cheering group.

Alice Huffman, chairwoman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee, said that while African-Americans are concerned about many of the same issues as other groups, many problems disproportionately affect the black community.

"We all are concerned about the lack of jobs, but in our community we have double-digit unemployment," she said. "We have serious health problems with the spread of AIDS (news - web sites) and the disproportionate number of our young men in this stupid war."

"rick ross got old african woman swag" (c)nayaa


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