Announcement to all current presidential contenders who seek political support from the national African American community. No, we are not monolithic—we do not all think alike, dance alike, look alike, or look for the same things in our political leadership. But two things are very consistent. One, you will be ignored, dismissed or otherwise maligned if you take Black voters for granted or “presume” you know them because you have a few Black friends with whom you hang out. Second, there are tangible benefits expected from contenders Black voters support.
A lot of pretty words won’t seal the deal, and having photo ops at a few Black churches won’t fool many people.
Here are the two political items serious POTUS contenders should be willing to pledge themselves to do, or it will not generally go well in terms of acquiring and keeping massive Black community support. First, you must promise to advocate, support and sign the newest version of H.R. 40. That legislation, pioneered by former congressman John Conyers from Detroit, and more recently advocated by Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, presently calls for not just a study of the past and current negative conditions of Black folk in the U.S.A. as a result of slavery, Jim Crowism, systematic racism, etc., but also calls for the creation of a 13-member Reparations Commission to propose specific reparations solutions. That Commission is to be appointed by the POTUS, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Pro Tem, and a combination of Black civil rights groups in the U.S.
Based on the extrapolated results of a recent survey of over 13,500 African Americans, over 85 percent of the African American population believes that some form of reparations is owed to Black folk in this country.
Second, the right to vote (along with the right to get a solid, quality, public school education) is seen as fundamental to making Black lives better in this country and in the world. The Supreme Court’s recent evisceration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act has a legislative answer. It is called H.R. 4, previously sponsored and advocated by civil rights veteran, John Lewis, and currently promoted by Alabama representative Terri Sewell.
The repair of federal voting rights legislation is also in the omnibus Democratic House bill, H.R. 1. Again, any serious contenders for the African American vote in 2020 must be quite public and vocal in their support for H.R. 4, if not for all of H.R. 1. You must pledge to advocate the legislation and promise to sign the bill into law as soon as it comes to your desk, once elected.
There can be no equivocation—public or private—or hesitation in these two positions taken. There will be no groundswell of Black American support for your candidacy without your strong, consistent support of both positions.
Candidates not heeding this advice taken from the Black Agenda, will have no one to blame but themselves as they either never get, or they lose once acquired, large-scale Black support for their candidacy.
In national politics now for the Black community—If it ain’t tangible, what good is it? We’ve heard all the sizzle; now where’s the real bar-be-que? With sauce?
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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