All Articles Tagged "Black politicians"
Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – the document that expresses the want, will, and hopes of the people – the country’s political system has reflected a disproportionately low number of women. Black females are even scarcer. However, some black women have been trailblazers in the political arena, shaping history and leaving a legacy that cannot be erased.
Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris broke several racial and gender barriers throughout her distinguished political career. In 1965, she became the first black female ambassador when President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Two years later, she returned to her alma mater, Howard University, where she became the law school dean, making her the first black female law school dean in the country. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Harris to serve in his cabinet as secretary of housing and urban development. She was the first black female in a presidential cabinet.
Svante Myrick is just 24 years old but his age hasn’t stopped him from achieving. Myrick, who graduated from Cornell University, less than 3 years ago, is now serving as Ithaca, New York’s youngest mayor.
His story might sound familiar to us. Myrick is biracial, raised by a white mother, abandoned by his black father and raised partially by his grandparents.
Although his family struggled with homeless and poverty at times, Myrick claims he is not a self-made man.
Check out his inspiring story at theGrio.com.
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(Politico) — Against a backdrop of slipping support among African Americans and widely acknowledged tension with black members of Congress, President Barack Obama delivered a fiery defense of his record at a Congressional Black Caucus gala Saturday night. Judging by the audience’s reaction — the president’s words often brought the crowd to their feet — Obama went a long way toward silencing his critics. Like a minister preaching to a restive choir, Obama used familiar cultural touchstones to remind the audience of his roots, including Biblical references, a rhythmic cadence and his own humble beginnings as the son of a single mother who sometimes relied on food stamps. He then challenged his naysayers with a list of legislative accomplishments that he said will uplift African American communities: middle-class tax breaks, money for college education and summer jobs programs.
(Wall Street Journal) — Two police unions have endorsed Allan W. Jennings Jr. in his bid to reclaim the southeast Queens City Council seat he once held, a sign that the legal troubles facing incumbent Council Member Ruben Wills may be a significant factor in the race. Jennings, who served on the council from 2002 through 2005, has won the backing of the Captains Endowment Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest police union, has decided to remain neutral, an official said.
(LA Times) — Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) came out swinging against Republicans in Congress on Saturday as she addressed the unemployed during a forum in Inglewood. The event occurred a day after new statistics were released showing that California’s jobless rate last month went up to 12%, from 11.8%. California now has the second-highest rate of unemployment in the nation, trailing only Nevada at 12.9%, and its jobless rate is well above the U.S. average of 9.1%. Waters vowed to push Congress to focus on creating more jobs. “I’m not afraid of anybody,” said Waters. “This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘tea party’ can go straight to hell.”
(The Grio) — For a time, it looked like the debt “super committee” wouldn’t exactly be super-diverse. As the names began to surface for the Democratic and Republican lawmakers who will be part of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, called for in the compromise legislation that raised the debt ceiling, it became increasingly obvious that the committee did not look like America. By Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, picks had surfaced: Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington (who will serve as co-chair), John Kerry of Massachusetts and Max Baucus of Montana, Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (former head of the anti-tax Club for Growth) and Rob Portman of Ohio; and House Republicans Dave Camp (the House ways and means chairman) and Fred Upton Michigan and Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Those picks certainly represent a geographic cross-section of the country — but not a demographic one.
(Wall Street Journal) — The House ethics committee said it will continue to investigate a $40,000 loan to Queens Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, after a review by another ethics office found that the money was likely a gift from a wealthy friend. That friend, Queens businessman Edul Ahmad, was arrested last month by the FBI on mortgage fraud charges and is now free on bail. In early 2007, Ahmad gave Meeks $40,000, apparently to help the congressman pay for a new home.
(Washington Examiner) — D.C. councilman’s email hits on ‘presumption of innocence’. Embattled Ward 5 D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas is quietly running a public relations campaign that says he should presumed innocent rather than being attacked over accusations that he stole $300,000 in city funds meant for kids. Thomas has agreed to pay the city back. But in his settlement of a lawsuit filed against him by D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan, Thomas wasn’t required to admit that he stole the cash meant for youth sports programs so he could buy a high-end Audi sport utility vehicle and take golfing trips, which the lawsuit alleged. That’s given Thomas some room to maneuver, even as three of his council colleagues have called for him to resign and some of his constituents have begun to clamor for a recall. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating the accusations.
President Obama took the time to greet a group of black bloggers in late 2010 as part of the push to gain African-American support for the midterm elections. This shows yet again how key new media is to his overall campaigning strategy, but more importantly demonstrates the power of black new media to unite the disparate factors in our community into one empowered group. Black voters online must be courted through African-American outlets. Jack & Jill Politics is one of the most important African-American venues, documenting issues that deserve more attention than the mainstream often doles to us and exerting pressure against enemies of the black middle class.
The Atlanta Post sought out co-founder Cheryl Contee to discuss how Jack & Jill Politics came into being, its successes as a top political influencer, and her hopes for the black community in the future as pressure from right-wing demagogues intensifies.
What is the social mission of Jack & Jill Politics?
Our goal is to provide a more balanced perspective from average, middle class African-Americans on politics and current affairs.
What inspired you to start the site? How old is it?
I grew frustrated in the summer of 2006 by the lack of voices from black people in American mainstream media who are neither criminals nor Will and Jada. We wanted to reflect the opinions and priorities of the majority of black folks who are hardworking, tax paying, concerned citizens.
What has been your most important story or influential blog post?
I’d say our early endorsement of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate! We were also very active during the 2008 election in pushing back on racism on the campaign trail. Our posts taking the Congressional Black Caucus and NAACP to task have also been influential in how those organizations approach African-Americans online.
Finally, we take a small share of credit in partnering with Color of Change and other organizations in pushing back on Glenn Beck and cutting down his advertising dollars. He’s now off the nation’s TV airwaves, and I’m proud of reducing a hate-filled fearmonger’s influence.
How do you generate revenue? Is that a primary concern, or does the political influence of the site come first? Is the site a springboard for personal branding?
Revenue is not a primary concern; we’re an all-volunteer operation and are all professionals with decent jobs. That said, we do accept advertising since that helps pay for site operations and travel to speaking appearances. For many of our bloggers, Jack and Jill Politics has created a strong platform that has helped their careers and opened other doors.
Is President Obama handling the debt ceiling debacle as he should?
I think Obama’s handling this more adroitly than the healthcare reform debate. The White House appears to be learning how to deal with the extreme right-wing better.
Do you think black republicans like Rep. Allen West and Herman Cain represent important figures in black politics? What is good and bad about their rise?
I do think the rise of West and Cain is worth watching. Unlike Obama, Cory Booker and Deval Patrick, they do not appear to appeal to a broad, diverse audience — their supporters are primarily white. So that’s of interest. That said, given their base, I believe like Clarence Thomas, they will likely advocate for policies that hurt, not help, other black people.
What is the number one thing most politicians tend to miss when trying to attract the black vote?
I think today it’s important to go beyond just the barbershop, beauty salon and church. These are still important gathering points. However, Pew Internet just released a study that says that 25% of blacks are using Twitter. The digital divide is dead and politicians need to get hip to a digital-savvy hip-hop generation on the march.
Are blacks doing enough to use the web as a political tool?
I think right now on sites like Tumblr or Twitter, there’s a lot of discussion that’s fun. I’d like to see more black folks tweet directly to members of Congress, their state legislatures and even corporations and tell them what they believe is right for our communities and for American families.
What are some of your predictions for the 2012 presidential election?
I think it’s going to be really rocky. Obama is an attractive candidate and the GOP will be throwing the kitchen sink at him to try and dent his appeal. Things might get ugly and more than a little bit racist.
If you could say one thing in person to President Obama, what would it be?
I already said it! I met him in person finally at the first White House Twitter Townhall. I told him that I’ve tried my best to try and help him. Obama’s not perfect — there are definitely issues I wish he’d approach differently. Yet I respect him as an amazing leader who really is trying to be the president of all the people.
I’m proud to say I helped America’s first black president get elected. That’s something I’ll be able to tell my grandkids about someday, I hope!
(Washington Examiner) — A rising tide of D.C. voters and elected officials is calling on Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. to resign after he agreed to pay the city back $300,000 he was accused of stealing. Petitions are circulating through Thomas’ Ward 5 to initiate a recall vote, and two D.C. Council members have called for him to resign. Other council members, including council Chairman Kwame Brown, have pushed Thomas to strongly consider his actions and the dark cloud they’ve cast on the city’s legislative body. Meanwhile, Thomas’ attorney, Fred Cooke, is creating a legal defense fund, The Washington Examiner has confirmed. The cash will help Thomas cover the costs of defending himself against an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: