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Talent Campaigns in Kansas City's Black Communities

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Missouri Senator Jim Talent and the Black Agenda Group's Richard Tolbert.

By Sylvia Maria Gross

Kansas City, MO – Missouri Senator Jim Talent addressed some 200 people at an African Americans for Talent event at the Marriot Country Club Plaza last night. Earlier in the evening, he was joined by Senator Kit Bond at a forum organized by the Black Agenda Group. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross reports.

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About three dozen people gathered in the basement of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. Talent said that when he entered Congress five years ago, he found there were not enough champions of the unique interests of African Americans.

TALENT: Champions - by that I mean people who in the Congress who make the interests of a particular community. So that when they plan what they're going to do for their office last year, there's always two or three things related to that community.

Talent cited his legislation expanding services for sickle cell anemia patients, re-opening civil rights cold cases and fighting poverty through community and faith-based organizations. In a recent debate, Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill said that Talent's votes to cut funding for Headstart, food stamps and Pell grants all showed his lack of commitment to the African American community. Talent said he didn't support program that were linked tax increases.

At the Black Agenda Group meeting, Talent also was asked how the federal government could help solve problems of poverty and crime and increase opportunities for minority business owners. He discussed his initiatives that support the work of community and faith-based organizations in education, prisoner re-integration, and supporting marriages.

TALENT: The idea here is to give grants to community organizations that are teaching folks how to build relationships, the churches are very excited about this, a lot of them do this anyway, and now they're going to get some federal support.

Organizers say the group had also hoped to hold a forum with Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill but it was not yet scheduled.

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