ATLANTA (AP) _ Civil rights elders' decision to support Hillary Rodham Clinton's run for president was seen as a coup in the competition for the black vote, especially in the Deep South.
But many younger black voters seem to be shrugging off the sway of leaders such as U.S. Representative John Lewis and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young. They are siding instead with Barack Obama's history-making bid to be the nation's first black president.
It's a generational struggle that should serve as a warning to Democrats as they head into primary contests in states with large black populations: The black vote today is anything but monolithic.
It also suggests the influence the civil rights leaders have enjoyed as political kingmakers is waning.
William Jelani Cobb is a 38-year-old history professor at the historically black Spelman College. As he puts it, "No disrespect, but they don't speak for us.''
The candidates face their first showdown for black votes in South Carolina on January 26th and another February 5th in Super Tuesday states with large minority populations, such as Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.