Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
After 17 years at KCEP 88.1-FM, Patricia Cunningham’s voice is among the most familiar on the Las Vegas Valley’s airwaves. Since 1996, she has hosted a talk show Saturday mornings addressing issues of importance to black and other minority listeners in the valley. We catch up with Cunningham a month before the nation will have its first chance at electing a black president.
How do you see the role of black leadership?
It’s important, but I think it’s been overrated. I think if there were more emphasis on family responsibility, including the issue of absentee fathers, rather than on the “strong leader,” we would see a drastic change in the black community.
So you agree with Bill Cosby?
The male role model is not there. No one could disagree with that message.
How important is Barack Obama’s candidacy for black people?
You know, so many people have hung their hopes on Obama’s campaign that it makes you ask, what did they believe before? It sort of brings their hopelessness into relief. I’d like to make sure that we’ve instilled the hope of being able to achieve anything in our children whether he wins or not.
How do you see black leaders in the Las Vegas Valley?
The days of the African-American leader who only represents African-Americans are gone. They have to be able to work with other groups of people, since your constituents are not going to be all black, even on the west side, where so many Hispanics have moved in.
Why do you think so many nonprofit organizations with public money to help the poor, particularly in the black community, have had problems with finances and programs?
I think social programs became too much of a source of employment over the years and lost their focus on alleviating problems, especially poverty. There’s been too much sugarcoating of this.
What has changed in the valley’s black community during the past 20 years?
The 13, 14 square blocks on the west side may still be the hub of the black community — especially through the churches — but blacks now live all over, with all kinds of expertise, from the middle and upper-middle class. The media doesn’t cover this much; these voices are not being heard and often work behind the scenes.