Last week social media was abuzz with political commentary after Diddy announced he was endorsing Our Black Party, a group that exists to address the specific needs of Black people in America and work to eradicate disparities that disproportionately affect our communities.
Moments after his announcement, the conversation steered away from the group’s agenda to focus on Diddy’s past comments regarding voting and the disenfranchisement of Black voters in the United States.
But what many failed to realize is that Our Black Party was a movement before Diddy came into the fold. Our Black Party was launched in July 2020 by co-chairs Mayor Candace Hollingsworth of Hyattsville, Maryland, and former Charlottesville, Virginia, Vice Mayor, Dr. Wes Bellamy.
“There’s always some natural criticism from folks with anything that is radically different and appears to come at a time where it contributes to the noise around something that people feel is so urgent and important, and I think we have to acknowledge that reality,” Hollingsworth said.
The group has closely collaborated with Diddy in the past and are grateful for his endorsement which which garnered more attention towards the cause but they want to make one thing clear.
“This is Our Black Party,” Bellamy said. “It’s not Diddy’s party, it’s not my party, it’s not Candace’s party. This is for us and it’s important for everyone to not only align with our values, but we are focused on assuring that we’re going to center the needs of Black folks and if you are aligned with the values that you see on our website, then we’re all in this together.”
At the height of the ongoing racial justice in America, a flailing economy and the coronavirus pandemic, both Hollingsworth and Bellamy believe no time was greater than the present.
Both have boldly faced adversities in their own political careers. Hollingsworth made history when she was elected, making her the first and youngest Black person to become mayor in the city’s 134-year history. Bellamy was a central voice speaking truth to power during the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
Our Black Party is not a third political party, but it is committed to advocating for and supporting candidates who want to see policies that will help strengthen the lives of Black people in America economically, and will add to their greater overall health. Our Black Party believes that this can be achieved by working to decriminalize poverty, prioritize high-quality and affordable education, defund the police, address medical racism and and provide support to grow Black businesses.
“We can’t do this work alone, we need you, no matter what state you’re in. If we want to be free…we’re all going to have to be on board,” Bellamy said.
Hollingsworth and Bellamy are supported by an equally engaged steering committee which includes, Stephanie Morales, Commonwealth Attorney of Portsmouth, Virginia, Lea Webb, an organizer and former city councilmember of Binghamton, New York, and Rashad Lambert, the founder of For(bes) The Culture.
In our current political and social environment, Black people are voicing more and more that our votes are not for free and are committed to holding officials accountable.
Hollingsworth and Bellamy also want the vision to expand beyond presidential elections and encourage users to visit their site and fill out the survey in order to collect data to work towards creating a 90-day-plan and agenda for the movement.
“It’s important for us, that we make it very clear to those who know who we are now…is that they know that it’s a strong group of people who have experience in local and state level elected office who understand what’s at stake politically as well as what those challenges are that we experience as elected officials and as community members in really being able to pass an agenda for Black people,” said Hollingsworth.
Bellamy says that consists of doing the work on the ground, and at every level, engaging the activists and organizers and making sure that non-Black people in America understand that Black people are not a monolith.
The group also understands that a cisgendered, heteronormative vision would not include members of the Black LGBTQ community who have been forced into the shadows along they way in different civil rights movements. Instead Our Black Party is focused on making sure the tenants are are centered around the liberation of all Black people.
Since forming in July, the group has begun holding calls with state leaders, representatives and organizers across several battleground states including Mississippi, Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland and Wisconsin.
“It’s still very much a priority for us to build this network at a local level and that local network contribute to a national groundswell of people who are advocating for a Black agenda,” said Hollingsworth.
“What I am most excited about for Our Black Party is that I see such tremendous potential for what we’re doing, what we’re building and that we can show people that a political party can look extremely different from the things we’ve seen so far.”