Last week I did a radio show on NPR where the commentator said that “The African American Vote No Longer Counted” that the Latino community was now carrying power and then asked “Is the Black community scrambling to find a place to hold on to?” To all of these questions I immediately countered back NO!, nothing could be further from the truth and our community would never fall for that type of rhetoric.
I pointed out that we currently have more elected representatives in the California Legislature than ever before (The Divine Nine); I also questioned why people were counting our voting power out? I reminded the reporter that it was the African American vote that got Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn elected over Antonio Villaraigosa in 2000. Then it got Mayor Villaraigosa voted into office over Jim Hahn 4 years later, and let’s not forget that it will most likely be the Black vote that decides the winner between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The change in the African American Political Landscape is not whether the African American vote still counts, there is no doubt that it does. The change (which I think scares a lot of people outside our community) is that there is a new generation of leaders stepping up and asking to be given the chance to carry the ball. This has never been more apparent than with the passing of our beloved Congresswoman, Juanita Millender-McDonald, and now the candidacy of Assembly person Laura Richardson, to fill the vacancy. This is further demonstrated by Compton Councilman Isadore Hall campaign to replace Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally in the State Assembly.
Recently we saw our community execute its voting power in Pasadena’s recent city council election, when 28 year old Jacque Robinson stepped out of nowhere to win the District 1 seat held by retiring council member Joyce Streator, and retain the African American leadership in this district.
Let’s remember that there are Dynamic, Bold and Qualified leaders making their way up the political ladders who are ready to take up the torch that has been so competently carried by their political predecessors. The new leadership includes Councilman Mike Gibson in Carson, Councilman Steve Bradford in Gardena, Curren Price and Mike Davis in the California Legislature. This generation also has some key up and coming political stars who currently operate behind the scenes. Political stars like Deron Williams (Chief of Staff for Councilman Herb Wesson) and Bernard Parks, Jr. (Chief of Staff and Son of Councilman Bernard Parks Sr.) who are serving their community tirelessly and if they choose, will someday have their time in the spotlight.
All you have to do is look around this country and you will find more and more of the next generation assuming the mantle of leadership. This new generation is educated and prepared to handle this roll, individuals such as my good friends, Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit, Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Chicago and Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee. All of these men and several young women throughout this country have been groomed by their parents and have willingly been preparing for their moment to move their community and this nation forward.
Now I am certain that some people are looking around to see who and where they can get a foot hold on seats that have been historically black power seats. So I say to you all, we must also be strategic in how we handle our own politics. Whenever possible we need to make sure we don’t get in our own way and let others run in and steal what we have. As long as we do not take our opportunities for granted, remain vigilant and communicate with one another, we will retain our power base and develop it into a bigger, stronger and broader coalition throughout this state and even throughout this nation (remember, Barack Obama is also a part of the new generation as well).
Let me know who else you think is ready to assume the leadership mantle within our community. Let me know if there are any other issues we need to address, or stories we need to tell. Let me know what is on your mind I really do want to hear from you, I want you to “Talk to Danny.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Jr.
President & Executive Editor