Searching old newspapers is one of my favorite pastimes, and I have tried to use them many times to shed light on current events — or to inform readers about how the past is prologue to our very interesting present-day quandaries.
Recently, I came across a syndicated column from November 1979 that seemed to point 30 years into the future toward an obscure campaign issue that arose briefly in the 2008 presidential campaign.
The column itself had appeared in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Evening Independent of Nov. 6, but it was the work of a veteran newspaperman who at the time was working for the prestigious Chicago Tribune and whose work was syndicated nationally. (1)
So far as I know, this 1979 column has not previously been brought to light, but it certainly should be because it broke some very interesting news about the “rumored billions of dollars the oil-rich Arab nations are supposed to unload on American black leaders and minority institutions.” The columnist quoted a black San Francisco lawyer who said, “It’s not just a rumor. Aid will come from some of the Arab states.”
Well, if anyone would know, it would have been this lawyer — Donald Warden, who had helped defend OPEC in an antitrust suit that year and had developed significant ties with the Saudi royal family since becoming a Muslim and taking the name Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour.
Al-Mansour told Jarrett that he had presented the “proposed special aid program to OPEC Secretary-General Rene Ortiz” in September 1979, and that “the first indications of Arab help to American blacks may be announced in December.” Maybe so, but I looked high and wide in newspapers in 1979 and 1980 for any other stories about this aid package funded by OPEC and never found it verified.
You would think that a program to spend “$20 million per year for 10 years to aid 10,000 minority students each year, including blacks, Arabs, Hispanics, Asians and native Americans” would be referred to somewhere other than one obscure 1979 column, but I haven’t found any other word of it.
Maybe the funding materialized, maybe it didn’t, but what’s particularly noteworthy is that this black Islamic lawyer who “for several years [had] urged the rich Arab kingdoms to cultivate stronger ties to America’s blacks by supporting black businesses and black colleges and giving financial help to disadvantaged students” was also the same lawyer who allegedly helped arrange for the entrance of Barack Obama into Harvard Law School in 1988.
That tale had surfaced in 2008 when Barack Obama was a candidate for president and one of the leading black politicians in the country — Percy Sutton of New York — told an interviewer on a Manhattan TV news show that he had been introduced to Obama “by a friend who was raising money for him. The friend’s name is Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, from Texas. He is the principal adviser to one of the world’s richest men. He told me about Obama.” (2)
This peculiar revelation engendered a small hubbub in 2008, but was quickly dismissed by the Obama campaign as the ditherings of a senile old man. I don’t believe President Obama himself ever denied the story personally, and no one has explained how Sutton came up with this elaborate story about Khalid al-Mansour if it had no basis in fact, and in any case al-Mansour no longer denies it. (3)
Back in 2008, while actually supporting Hillary Clinton in the New York primary, Percy Sutton was interviewed on TV and said that he thought Barack Obama was nonetheless quite impressive. He also revealed that he had first heard about Obama 20 years previously in a letter where al-Mansour wrote, “there is a young man that has applied to Harvard. I know that you have a few friends up there because you used to go up there to speak. Would you please write a letter in support of him?”
Sutton concluded in the interview, “I wrote a letter of support of him to my friends at Harvard, saying to them I thought there was a genius that was going to be available and I certainly hoped they would treat him kindly.”
Until now, there really has been no context within which to understand the Sutton story or to buttress it as a reliable account other than the reputation of Sutton himself as one of the top leaders of the black community in Manhattan — himself a noted attorney, businessman and politician. But the new discovery of the 1979 column that established Khalid al-Mansour’s interest in creating a fund to give “financial help to disadvantaged students” does provide a clue that he might indeed — along with his patron, Arab Prince Alwaleed bin Talal — have taken an interest in the “genius” Barack Obama.
It also might be considered more than coincidence that the author of that 1979 newspaper column was from Chicago, where Barack Obama settled in 1986 a few years after his stint at Columbia University. It is certainly surprising that the author of that column was none other than Vernon Jarrett, the future (and later former) father-in-law of Valerie Jarrett, who ultimately became the consigliatore of the Obama White House.
It is also noteworthy that Vernon Jarrett was one of the best friends and a colleague of Frank Marshall Davis, the former Chicago journalist and lifelong communist who moved to Hawaii in the late 1940s and years later befriended Stanley and Madelyn Dunham and their daughter Stanley Ann, the mother of Barack Obama. (4)
And to anyone who has the modicum of a spark of curiosity, it is surely intriguing that Frank Davis took an active role in the rearing of young Barack from the age of 10 until he turned 18 and left Hawaii for his first year of college at Occidental College in Los Angeles. (5)
It is also at least suggestive that Obama began that college education as a member of the highly international student body of Occidental College in 1979, the same year when Vernon Jarrett was touting the college aid program being funded by OPEC and possibly Prince Alwaleed. The fact that President Obama has studiously avoided releasing records of his college years is suggestive also, but has no evidentiary value in the present discussion. (6)
The nature of Vernon Jarrett’s relationship to Khalid al-Mansour is likewise uncertain, but it is very likely they had known each other as leaders of the black civil-rights movement for many years. Under his previous name of Donald Warden, al-Mansour had founded the African American Association in the Bay Area in the early 1960s. He had also helped inspire the Black Panther Party through his association with black-power leaders such as Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Seale, of course, had a famous association with Chicago later, when he was part of the Chicago Eight charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. (7)
In any case, it doesn’t matter if Vernon Jarrett and Khalid al-Mansour had a personal relationship or not. For some reason, al-Mansour had used Jarrett as the messenger to get out the word about his efforts to funnel Arab oil money to black students and minority colleges at about the same time that Barack Obama began his college career. That doesn’t mean either Jarrett or al-Mansour knew Obama at that time, but eight years later when Obama was a rising star in Chicago, a friend of Bill Ayers and Valerie Jarrett, it is much more likely that he did indeed have the assistance of very important people in his meteoric rise. The words of Percy Sutton about what al-Mansour told him regarding Obama certainly have the ring of truth:
“His introduction was there is a young man that has applied to Harvard. I know that you have a few friends back there... Would you please write a letter in support of him? (That’s before Obama decided to run.) ... and he interjected the advice that Obama had passed the requirements, had taken and passed the requirements necessary to get into Harvard and become president of the Law Review. That’s before he ever ran for anything. And I wrote a letter in support of him to my friends at Harvard, saying to them that I thought there was a genius that was going to be available and I certainly hoped they would treat him kindly...” (2)
What possible significance could all this have? We may never know, but Vernon Jarrett, back in 1979, thought that OPEC’s intention to fund black and minority education would have huge political ramifications. As Jarrett wrote:
“The question of financial aid from the Arabs could raise a few extremely interesting questions both inside and outside the black community. If such contributions are large and sustained, the money angle may become secondary to the sociology and politics of such an occurrence.” (1)
He was, of course, right.
As Jarrett suggests, any black institutions and presumably individuals who became beholden to Arab money might be expected to continue the trend of American “new black advocacy for a homeland for the Palestinians” and presumably for other Islamic and Arabic interests in the Middle East. For that reason, if for no other, the question of how President Obama’s college education was funded is of considerably more than academic interest.
1) “Will Arabs Back Ties to Blacks With Cash?” by Vernon Jarrett — http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19791106&id=RcFaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=GFkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6597,1456637&hl=en
2) Percy Sutton interview on NY1, March 2008 — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EcC0QAd0Ug&e
3) The National and International Roundtable posted a one-hour interview with Khalid al-Mansour and other African American Association leaders on the Internet just last week. In the introduction of al-Mansour, the black host notes that his guest had been a patron of Barack Obama and had recommended him for admission to Harvard Law School. You will note that al-Mansour does not correct him.
4) “All in the (Political) Family,” by Paul Kengor — http://spectator.org/archives/2012/08/03/all-in-the-political-family
5) “Dreams from my Father,” by Barack Obama — http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-From-My-Father-Inheritance/dp/B000R9EG3Q
6) “Why Obama’s College Records Matter,” By Monte Kuligowski — http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/07/why_obamas_college_records_matter.html
7) “Who is Khalid al-Mansour?” by Kenneth R. Timmerman — http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/khalid-al-mansour-Obama/2008/09/04/id/325191