Black Electoral Politics (Previously written in March 2010)

This post was originally a two-minute message for my speech class. After completing the speech in class, I decided to post it to Facebook, and now it’s here on The Manuscript.

Recently, I attended a panel discussion entitled “Black Electoral Politics in the Post Civil Rights Era.” On the panel were NAACP Policy Director Hilary Shelton and University of District of Columbia Professor Derek Musgrove. The discussion was facilitated by Ray Baker, the host of “Real Talk With Ray Baker,” a talk show on the Glasshouse Radio Network. The three men discussed several topics relating to black electoral politics linking the past to the present. One of the most important issues addressed was what black elected officials are getting us (black people) and what we have to do in order to get what we want.

The Congressional Black Caucus was founded in 1969 to help provide opportunities for blacks and other minority groups to achieve equality in the areas of economics, employment, health care, education, etc. Currently, the CBC has the same goals, but its means of achieving these goals are different from what they were during the Civil Rights Era. CBC pioneers like Shirley Chisholm, Louis Stokes, and William Clay were able to directly advocate for the black race and pass more legislation then than the CBC has passed presently.

According to Shelton and Musgrove, current black caucus members and other black elected officials aren’t able to directly advocate economic equality for blacks knowing that conservatives would consider them to be racists. This may also account for why constituency concerned with Black American problems has shrunken. The combination of conservative opposition and lack of constituency makes it difficult for the CBC to pass legislation in favor of African Americans.

Black elected officials can only do so much. Take note of the Tea Party Movement. This group has been holding demonstrations and rallies to voice its wants and needs. The Black race is able to advance if it does the same. Blacks supported and voted for black leaders like our current representatives, congressmen/women, mayors, governors, and U.S. president. Voting is the first step towards advancement, but unfortunately, Blacks demobilized after the their officials were elected.

Black Americans shouldn’t be complacent with merely voting Black officials into office. Regardless of income or social status, Blacks will suffer from systematic racism. Therefore, Black American problems can’t be totally left to the politicians to solve. People must put pressure on their representatives and demand them to take action. Don’t just sit there. The Tea Party and the Coffee Party are making their voices heard. This is a message for minority races to come together, and like Chuck D said “bring the noise!”

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