Finally, a new book by Phyllis Schlafly and George Neumayr, No High Power, settles the question as to when exactly Barack Obama trained with the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation, or IAF.
This information is significant for a number of reasons.
First of all, it is significant because, to date, the lacky media has gotten the dates wrong.
Aaron Klein and I relied upon said erroneous information about the IAF training in our 2010 New York Times bestselling book, The Manchurian President (pages 57-58):
- Investor’s Business Daily commented in an August 28, 2008, editorial that, for three years, Obama had agitated “with marginal success for more welfare programs in South Side Chicago” and left to “study law to ‘bring about real change’–on a large scale.”
“While at Harvard Law School,” IBD added, Obama “still found time to hone his organizing skills. For example, he spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course taught by Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. With his newly minted law degree, he returned to Chicago to reapply–as well as teach–Alinsky’s ‘agitation tactics’.” …
IBD indicates it was while he was still a law student at Harvard. Ryan Lizza agrees. In his March 2007 article, Lizza writes: “Even at Harvard, Obama kept a foot in the world of organizing. He spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course taught by the IAF, a station of the cross for Alinsky acolytes.
But Charlotte Allen of The Weekly Standard places the timing of Obama’s training prior to his enrollment at Harvard. In the magazine’s November 3, 2008, issue, Allen writes: “Not long before enrolling at Harvard Law School in 1988, Obama underwent IAF’s standard eight-day training session for organizers.
We also cited Ed Chambers, the heir to Alinsky’s IAF, as indicating that Obama’s IAF training was toward the end of his Harvard education.
- Chambers “trained Barack Obama in street organizing when he moved from the Harvard Law Review to Chicago’s South Side….”
Now, one explanation is that Obama attended more than one IAF training session. It is entirely possible.
As to why Ed Chambers would suggest inaccurate information is unclear.
What we now know is accurate, as Schlafly and Neumayr prove using contemporary documents, Barack Obama attended what was most likely his first IAF training session between July 8 and July 18, 1986. Those are the dates of his flights from Chicago to Los Angeles and return.
Schlafly and Neumayr also reveal who funded this trip and training — The Campaign for [Catholic] Human Development. A May 20, 1986 typed requisition order, signed by Barack Obama, for the ticket purchased for his trip appears on Calumet Community Religious Conference letterhead.
Another document, dated June 30, 1986, on CCHD letterhead, offered well wishes for a “good trip” to the IAF training session for Obama and John Owens, whom Obama mentored at the Developing Communities Project.
The following comes from a July 23, 2008, NPR article, “Chicago Activist Inspired by Obama”:
- MARTIN: Joining us to talk about his work as a community organizer in Chicago is John Owens, who worked with Obama in the 1980s. Welcome, thank you for talking to us.
Mr. JOHN OWENS (Community Organizer, Chicago): Thank you.
MARTIN: First of all, what does a community organizer do?
Mr. OWENS: Well, primarily a community organizer is someone who goes into an area and builds relationships with community residents for the purpose of understanding what their, you know, values and vision is for the area and sets about the work of helping them to achieve it.
MARTIN: How did you get started in this work?
Mr. OWENS: I had always had an interest in community development, and I got a degree in urban geography from Chicago State University and, you know, after working at the Department of Planning for the city of Chicago for a brief period of time, I landed a job with the organization called Friz the Parks (ph), a local park advocacy group. … One day while I was at work, Barack Obama walked into the office and we began to, you know, have a conversation about, you know, neighborhoods and just what it takes to actually make some things change in a major way. You know, I could see that he was very astute and knowledgeable and had a certain perspective about things, and he began to talk to me about community organizing and the work that organizers do. One thing led to another and he invited me to a two-week leadership training event.
[NOTE: Previously, I had taken this to mean training with the Gamaliel Foundation, where Obama conducted training.]
MARTIN: So you went and got some actual training in how to get people interested? …
MARTIN: Speaking of dreams, you figure in Barack Obama’s book, “Dreams From My Father.” Have you ever read it?
Mr. OWENS: Yes. Yes, I have. It’s been a while, but I’ve read it.
MARTIN: You’re in it.
Mr. OWENS: Yes.
MARTIN: I think he was your mentor, right? Wasn’t it that he brought you into the organization and kind of helped you get started?
Mr. OWENS: Right. …
MARTIN: I’m going to remember that. John Owens is a community organizer with the Organization of the Northeast in Chicago. He worked with Senator Obama on the city’s South Side in the 1980s. Mr. Owens joined us from member station WBEZ in Chicago. I thank you so much for speaking with us.
On March 30, 2007, Bob Secter and John McCormick’s Chicago Tribune article, “Obama hits Chicago during Council Wars,” added:
- … Thanks to Alinsky, would-be organizers considered Chicago something of a Mecca. Not Obama. After his graduation from Columbia University in 1983, Obama worked briefly for a New York financial consultant and then a consumer organization.
Restless, he read the classifieds, the same way others might look for a job as a fry cook or find a puppy to buy. On a trip to the Midtown branch of the New York public library, Obama was scouring what he described as a “newsletter for do-gooder jobs” when he spotted a help-wanted ad from Kellman’s Calumet Community Religious Conference.
[NOTE: This fairy tale dating to around June 1985 has been disputed by those who have been unable to locate said advert.]
Based on the South Side and south suburbs, CCRC needed an African-American organizer for the dozen black churches that comprised its city branch, preferably to work cheap in helping residents develop the tactics to influence politicians. In short, he was expected to turn the cloutless into players.
The rookie organizer was half the age of those he was hired to inspire. Behind his back, many called him “Baby Face Obama.” It became a term of endearment.
Obama’s poise quickly grabbed their attention and respect, said many who worked with him back then. “The guy was just totally comfortable with who he was and where he was,” said John Owens, who Obama eventually hired as an assistant.
- Obama’s work on the south side has won him the friendship and respect of many activists. One of them, Johnnie Owens, left the citywide advocacy group Friends of the Parks to join Obama at the Developing Communities Project. He later replaced Obama as its executive director.
Returning to John Owens’ July 2008 interview, we have affirmation of the timing of when the two men met and that he had indeed accompanied Obama to IAF’s training in Los Angeles in July 1986.
What is most disturbing about this new information is that, here we are five years plus later and folks are just now getting around to vetting Barack Obama. As a researcher and writer, I would have loved to have known these particular details years ago when I was doing my own due dilligence.
How much more is there out there yet to learn about the Preezy of the United Steezy? Too much — and the clock is ticking.