November 3, 2009

LKL Web Exclusive: The Future of Black Politics

Posted: 10:38 PM ET

By Jeff Johnson
Host, BET News

There have been two very different, yet related Mayoral races coming to a close tonight. Both have serious implication about the future of local Black politics in the United States.

Jeff-JohnsonAtlanta has been presented with the reality of having a non-Black Mayor for the first time in decades due to shifting demographics and the multitude of black political interests. In New York City many are questioning if Black leaders that have received donations and appointments from sitting Mayor Bloomberg have blocked Bill Thompson, a legitimate Black candidate, from gaining substantial African-American support and thus having a chance to win.

What is the real future of what used to be a monolithic and powerful Black-voting bloc in the face of new local demographics and ideological realities?

Cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and even Baltimore that have maintained overwhelmingly Black city leadership are being forced to rethink political methodology that has governed how things are done for decades.

The gentrification of urban cities has shifted primarily black populations from inner cities that are increasingly unaffordable to surrounding suburbs with more reasonable residential prices and taxes. These urban centers with shifting tax bases and more racially diverse populations will begin looking for political representation that is reflective of “their” (whatever demographics “they” may be) ideological beliefs.

While not rocket science, this reality has seemed to escape many Black leaders. It is making it more and more difficult for “old school” black leadership that is unwilling to embrace a broader political agenda vs. holding on to “race politics” that predicate their entire agenda on civil rights issues alone to survive.

In Atlanta I have heard more about the color of the candidates than what they have the capacity to DO. The universe of Black Political leadership is as diverse as the African-American community itself. For those that are concerned with maintaining some level of African-American political power in any city, it will take more than simply being Black. I for one am excited about it. How about elected officials (regardless of color) with the capacity to provide transformative representation for those who actually elected them.

While Atlanta is dealing with shifting political power, New York City is dealing with access to power as they question the integrity associated with Black leadership that receives resources, dollars, and appointments in exchange for their vote and support.

To put it in perspective, Calvin Butts, a well known and respected Black faith leader has been chastised for promising support to City Comptroller and Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and in the late hours of the campaign, shifting his support to Mayor Bloomberg in the shadow of reports that his church’s community development corporation received considerable financial support from both Bloomberg’s foundation as well as from the Mayor personally.

This has cast a pejorative light on all the Black faith leaders, currently supporting the Mayor, who lead large Black congregations who would have typically supported the Black candidate. Many of these Black leader’s community development corporations have received large city contracts and some of the leaders have been appointed to city commissions. While it is easy to question Butts’ last minute shift, many of the other Black leaders have been working in cooperation with the Mayor since his last election. I thought that local leaders were always fighting to have city leadership provide access to resources and leadership opportunities often reserved for those outside the Black community. It seems a bit hypocritical to fight for that level of access, receive it, only to then say…”oh…now a black guy is running…so thanks, but no thanks”.

Thompson’s chances were less hijacked by Bloomberg’s support of Black leadership, than by the fact that he spent more money to run for a third term than any Mayoral candidate ever. It is important to support the development and advancement of candidates of color. I do hope my comments do not negate that point. However, as the realities of the shifting demographics of local communities change the face and agenda of the electorate, what once was effective black political strategy and mobilization will forever be changed.

Filed under: Larry King Live • Politics • Politics is King

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Peter   November 3rd, 2009 11:12 pm ET

John King lied to Larry King about media..Obama like to see Fox be eliminated and he does not care about freedom of expression! Only his way has to be ..voters let him know by Republican candidate voting in in election in 3 states. Obama waste taxpayers money to support the useless candidates.

rod   November 4th, 2009 1:18 am ET

Houston Mayoral race appears to headed for a runoff

With Locke 2 precincts behind

ARNEADER   November 4th, 2009 1:33 am ET

Jef itf is STILL a BLACK THANG! Atlanta is the Black Mecca and yes ATL should have a BLACK MAYOR! New Orleans, DC, Newark...should all have Black Mayors! I live in Jackson, MS and it's 80% BLACK! YES! We VOTE BLACK! and YES! STAY BLACK! Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts is on the WRONG side of history....he just sold his soul to the DEVIL!

Nicole S. -- North Carolina   November 4th, 2009 2:07 am ET

Tonight, Charlotte, NC elected an African-American mayor!

Anthony Foxx is the first Democratic mayor elected in Charlotte since Harvey Gantt was mayor in the 1980's.

Foxx is only the second African-American mayor in Charlotte's history. The first African-American mayor was Harvey Gantt.

Those who don't live in the South may not understand the relevance of this - but it is major.

CNN needs to interview Mr. Foxx. He is more than qualified for the position to which he was been elected. Incredible! 🙂

Dorian   November 4th, 2009 3:51 am ET

Jeff thanks for not forgetting to mention that today's election results were due impart to the continued attacks on the President by Fox News and other outlets where they continue to spew non supportive, negative views repetitively and then they have the audacity to make the claims that they are the no- spin zones!!(Yeah right!)

Juan   November 4th, 2009 9:58 am ET

We have 12 million illegal aliens in the US. Considering this fact, one way to resolve the economic crisis, is by offering special residency statuses to 3 million foreigners that qualify to buy a house in the US. And full citizenship if they pay cash. If we feel we don´t have enough room in this country for 3 million additional people, we kick out 3 million illegals.

Pam   November 4th, 2009 9:20 pm ET

Every issue should be on the public ballot written in short common form not legal book length jargon full of exclusions, exceptions and several issues in one that leaves room for loopholes and dispute. Every issue should be on the public ballot; gun control or not, abortion or not, bailing out the financial institutes and car companies or use the suggestion in the St Petersburg, Flordia newspaper: give every employee over 50 $1 million with the stipulation; They retire, 40 million jobs open (unemployment fixed), they buy an "AMERICAN" car (auto industry fixed), they buy a home or pay off the one they have (financial institutes fixed). The death penalty or not, mandatory insurance or hold companies who’s products are linked to all major diseases accountable: the producer’s of soda’s, candy pastries,msg, chips, cig’s, alcohol, etc and take some responsibility ourselves etc. All issues should be on the ballot and the popular vote MUST RULE.
The very best way to cut government spending is to eliminate every political position except that of the President and that position should be redefined as follows; Responsibilities are National Security, World affairs, promoting world peace.
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS, One randomly selected issue writer from each state would be hired. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS, Issues would then be placed on the public ballot. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS, the public votes. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS, the public vote rules!!! OMG, What a concept!!! ARE YOU READY!!!!!!
This is THE RIGHT THAT AMERICANS fight and die for, this is our right as American’s. Politician’s have taken that right from us only because we are letting them!!!! Are you on my TEAM?

Loren McCullough   November 12th, 2009 12:52 pm ET

Larry you should have never told the Lady that there wouldn't be any viewer calls and then spring one on her...not fair Larry...Ive lost some respect for you...

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