The spate of campaign fliers that use images of lynchings, Jim Crow laws and the recent racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, to urge blacks to vote in next week's election somehow failed to grab the attention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The NAACP headquarters in Washington wasn't prepared to answer questions about the fliers and mailers circulated in black communities in Georgia, Maryland and North Carolina, despite widespread news coverage of it for the past week.
"Can you send the photos of the literature and tell me the exact states they have been distributed in so that I can contact our field offices?" said NAACP spokeswoman Jamiah Adams.
She did not respond after receiving the information.
Bob Ross, president of the NAACP branch in Prince George's County, Maryland, also wasn't familiar with the race-baiting campaign literature.
"We haven't seen it and we haven't heard about it," said Mr. Ross, whose county is majority black and a critical Democratic stronghold in statewide races. "I have three Facebook pages and Twitter and I haven't seen that yet."
He said that race should not be an issue in the election and he disagreed with the Maryland Democratic Party making race an issue.
"I can't control the Democratic Party. They shouldn't do that," Mr. Ross said. "They should just let it go on the issues."
The racially-charged fliers coincide with rising fears among Democrats that low turnout this year from black voters, who overwhelmingly back the party, will result in Democratic loses in the governor's race in Maryland and in key U.S. Senate races in Georgia and North Carolina.
President Obama, whose low poll number have kept him for the most part off the campaign trail this year, has joined the scramble to excite black voters. He has quietly done a series of interviews on black radio stations to get the message out to the bloc that turned out in droves for him in 2008 and 2012.
"I'll bet there are whole bunch of folks listening to your show who may not even know that there's an election going on. I need everybody to go vote," Mr. Obama said recently on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show in Atlanta, which is also nationally syndicated on the TV program Dish Nation.
The mailer in Maryland, which was produced by the Maryland Democratic Party, used racially-charged images to deliver the same message in support of Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is in a surprisingly competitive race for governor against Republican Larry Hogan in that deep-blue state.
"Vote for Anthony Brown as Maryland's first African-American Governor," it says. "History is watching to see if we vote."
The mailer includes images of a segregation era sign for a "colored waiting room," a "Must Show ID to Vote" sign and a black-and-white photograph of a white protester in the 1960s holding a sign that reads: "Go Back to Africa Negroes."
Another photograph in the pamphlet shows Donald Trump in front of a billboard that reads: "Where's the birth certificate," recalling the real estate mogul's campaign to get President Obama to show his birth certificate and prove eligibility to be president.
"They've placed roadblocks in our path at every turn," it says.
Another similar mailer from the state Democratic Party uses images from the street protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests raged in August after a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, a young, unarmed black man.
The Maryland Democratic Party and the Brown Campaign have defended the mailer as being historically accurate.
Mr. Ross, who is leading a get-out-the-vote effort and a voter protection drive in the county, said that while he disagrees with the state Democratic Party's tactics, he would not call on the party to renounce the mailer.
"It's a free democracy, if that's what they choose to do," he said. "I guess everybody tries to exploit voters in one fashion or another."
A flier distributed in black communities in North Carolina used a photograph of a lynch mob to energize voters behind the state's incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay R. Hagan, whose locked in a tough race against Republican Thom Tillis that will help decide which party wins majority control of the U.S. Senate.
The flyer's message, printed across the photograph of a white mob with a black man hanged in the background, reads: "Kay Hagan Doesn't WIN! Obama's IMPEACHMENT Will Begin! Vote in 2014."
A mailer sent out by the Georgia Democratic Party also used images from Ferguson, such as a photograph of two black children holding cardboard signs that each display two hand prints and the words "Don't Shoot."
The caption read: "If You Want To Prevent Another Ferguson In Their Future "
On the next page, the word "VOTE" was written in large red letters over a photograph of a man kneeling in the street with his hands raised above his head, as he faced riot police. "It's up to you to make change happen," it said.
Georgia is another state where Democrats are desperate to get black voters to the polls. The neck-and-neck race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue for the open seat is one of just three races where Democrats have a shot of picking up a GOP-held seat.
Georgia Democratic Party Chairman DuBose Porter insisted that the association between Georgia and Ferguson applies — that both were racial powder kegs.
"That's what we need to change in Georgia because that's what you have. You have situations, you have communities that can explode like that because you've taken the opportunity away from them," he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
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