Black Hollywood weighs whether to support Obama again

When Mattie Lawson's husband, Michael, suggested in 2003 that they consider hosting a political fundraiser at their lavish Los Angeles estate for a new up-and-comer in the field, she immediately said no.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

A recent Newsweek article is asking whether black celebrities will come out to support President Obama’s re-election with the same vigor they did in 2008. The question seems to be an extension of concerns over black voter participation. Some members of Hollywood’s black elite have raised issues around the president’s efforts on behalf of black Americans — but are still pledging their support.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson, an early supporter of the president, freely admits his ambivalence. “Some days I agree with Dr. West and what he says about the president not dealing enough with the plight of the poor,” says Jackson. “Then I think about how they won’t give him credit for anything… The president got about a week of moderate applause for capturing the most-wanted man in the world. You ask me, he should have put that motherfucker on ice and defrosted his ass Nov. 1.”

Still, former ambassador Andrew Young believes attitudes will change when the Republican candidate is clear. “Black voters will see at some point soon that this is far worse than 2008 and John McCain,” says Young. “Obama’s rivals this time are talking about taking us all the way back to a period that really wasn’t good for black people in any way. The money will come when they understand we can’t go back.”

Other big names in black Hollywood are actively throwing their support Obama’s way. “I will be there again just like I was in 2008,” says actress, dancer, and Grey’s Anatomy director Debbie Allen. “Are things exactly the way I’d like them to be or need them to be? No, but he can get us there if he’s given the time he needs to do it.” Will Smith, along with his wife, Jada, and manager, James Lassiter, as well as Kerry Washington, Tracy Morgan, and Jay-Z say they’ll be back on the Obama election train as well.

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