Albany-- Since being elected President, George Bush has never addressed the NAACP. In fact, he's turned down several invitations to speak at their annual convention but that's about to change. Some members of the African-American community say it's about time.
At most barbershops, you'll hear a little more than the buzz of clippers. For the price of a haircut, you also get to give your two cents worth of conversation.
"The barbershop conversations can range from everday lifestyles to the hip-hop community to law," says barber E. J. Mallory. A popular topic between shaves is politics. Mallory feels that the best way for someone in his chair to give a true opinion on anything dealing with government is through voting.
"Voting is very important. It's the voice of the people. If you don't vote, you have no voice," says Mallory. He admits President Bush didn't get his vote and finds it offensive that he hasn't addressed NAACP members since he's been in office. Now that he is, Mallory questions if it's a political move.
"I feel like it's almost a corrective measure. It should have been done initially instead of ignored," says Mallory.
"It's long overdue. It's very long overdue," says Chadwick Pope.
Members of the black community feel it's a renewed chance for President Bush to address many issues. "Education, that's the key to everything for the black community, education," says Pope.
"The first is jobs in my view. That's going to be at the top of the list," says Albany NAACP President William Wright. Wright says it was due time for President Bush to accept an invitation to address members at the annual convention.
"One of the things in previous years that he has made claim to is, it was an issue about prior commitments and time but this time we said we're going to take it right to the White House," says Wright. The convention will be held about one mile from the White House and although Wright feels it won't be an instant change, he feels it's a start.
"It has to improve the relationship a little bit," says Wright.
"It's about three, four years a little too late but it's better than nothing I guess," says Pope.
If anything, many hope that it improves the unity between the community and the government and that gives barbers and their clients something extra to talk about.
Three delegates from this area will attend the 97th annual convention in Washington, D. C.
Although he spoke to the group as a candidate, Bush has not addressed the nation's oldest civil rights group since he became president.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leaders have been critical of many of Bush's policies, while Bush supporters have accused the NAACP of being a partisan Democratic tool. Bush got only eleven percent of the black vote in 2004.
White House spokesman Tony Snow says the president has an important role to play in making the case for civil rights, as well as unity.