Some residents remain upset at Obama’s characterization of the people in the projects and his role in helping them. Hazel Johnson, who has lived at Altgeld Gardens since 1962… said she worked on the asbestos issue at the same time as Obama, said she doesn’t know of any other work that Obama did at Altgeld Gardens aside from helping on asbestos.
“I like him, he is a nice, young intelligent man, but some of the things he said are not true,” said Johnson. “I was organizing, doing that work before Obama even came to the Gardens.”…Jerry Kellman, who hired Obama for the job in 1985, said Obama arrived full of idealism that needed to be tempered by the reality of what it took to bring about change. The experience turned Obama into a more practical person, Kellman said.
Even as Mr. Obama is promising to bring America together, his candidacy is casting new light on the mounting class divide in the black community — and the debate among blacks about how to get ahead. The expanding black middle class — accounting for about 40% of the black population — see in Mr. Obama a validation of the choices they have made: attending largely white colleges, working in predominantly white companies and government offices, climbing up the ladder of American success.
For African-Americans living in the inner city — where most children are being raised by single mothers, male unemployment in some cities tops 50% and 40% of young black men are either in jail, awaiting trial or on probation — the view of Mr. Obama is much more skeptical.