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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 09/98: US midterms  
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US midterms Tuesday, 3 November, 1998, 21:33 GMT
Black America backs Clinton
Bill Clinton
"Clinton is the best president for blacks. He's doing a great job."
By Radio 5 Live's Phil Taylor in Washington

Just a $4 cab ride from the White House, the centre of the most powerful nation in history, is the Shaw district, a poverty-stricken Black neighbourhood.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Only blocks from the marble splendour of Washington, Shaw is a mish-mash of modern low-rise public housing and ancient ramshackle 19th century tenements. Rusting refrigerators, broken-down furniture and bits of car litter front yards and porches.

Shaw is a prime example of the divisions of 20th century America. Despite talk of equality and fairness, the United States remains a divided nation.

The mid-term elections taking place on Tuesday do not simply show the divisions in political allegiance to either Democrats or Republicans. The elections also show the division between rich and poor, white and black.

And while the country may be split on President Bill Clinton's behaviour, Black America stands solidly behind the president and the Democratic Party.

Solid backing in the capital

The Reverend Barry Hargrove is a minister at the imposing red brick Shiloh Baptist Church in Shaw.

The Shiloh Church was founded in 1863 by newly freed slaves from Virginia. There are as many as 14 churches 10 blocks from Shiloh. It is a deeply religious area. Walking by one dilapidated house, he said it used to be a crack house. "It was a terrible eyesore."

As he meets and greets parishioners at a local supermarket, Rev Hargrove said despite poverty and fear of crime the neighbourhood is fighting back, just like Bill Clinton. "I just think that Bill has problems like everybody else has problems.

"It happens that he got caught in his problems. It's not our place to judge him. However, he has been a great president. He has brought positive change, particularly to Black communities in this country, and that's why he is still as popular as he is now, even in the midst of all this impeachment talk."

Rev Hargrove's congregation solidly supports President Bill Clinton and his Democratic Party.

"Clinton is the best president for Blacks. He's doing a great job, not a good job, a great job," said one of Rev Hargrove's parishioners.

Another minister at Shiloh, Reverend Justice Reeves, said that when the economy is strong, people don't vote. But hard times for Black America may be just around the corner.

Rev Reeves is hoping for a strong voter turnout. "What my hope is, is that Democrats will rise up and really vote in this election.

"I'm a Republican, but I'm supporting the Democratic position because it is seeking human needs over corporate greed.

"I think that Republicans have really put private interests above the needs of the people of this country, and this is dangerous," he said.

Links to more US midterms stories are at the foot of the page.


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