In case you don’t know, we are not a monolithic people. We don’t all think, feel, experience or see things the same. Each of us as a member of ‘The Race,’ are unique expressions of the human race with the right to independent thinking, however as Blacks living in America that right has often been usurped. True, we have found strength in our collective action trusting that together we stand united we fall. Strength in numbers is real. Elections rest their laurels on it. We fought for the right to vote under the guidance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a united group with the support of others in order to gain what was rightfully ours as citizens of this United States.
Today we can vote as a result of the sacrifices of those on the front line of the “Civil Rights Movement,” whether they were a “Freedom Fighter,” or a reluctant militant. With that right comes the freedom of choice. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to weigh in on the political candidates platforms, experiences and ability to assess which candidate we think best serves our community and us. History has taught us that it’s not a battle of charisma. We can’t simply vote for the slick smooth-tongued politician selling us what we want to hear. Ideally we can look at experienced candidates and examine their successes, failures; their voting record and how they stand as far as equity, parity and equal opportunity for all. However, when presented with the first time candidate we have to consider their past experiences and how they qualify for the position for which they are running. I remained convinced that most businessmen do not make good politicians. I say most because there are always exceptions.
The truth is that our financial crisis is not on the shoulders of the government but rather on the shoulders of corporate America. The American government was created to provide leadership that will benefit and serve all people. A major aspect of that is to establish equality and equal opportunity for all. As Blacks in America we are always faced it seems with this issue. We look at candidates based on their performance where fairness regarding us is concerned.
Take President Lincoln who emancipated the slaves not because of his love for Blacks but because ending slavery meant reducing the South’s power. As long as slavery existed it meant that the Confederate states had free labor for the production of cotton, tobacco, rice and sugar cane, all of, which were major commodities making the south a very wealthy region. Of course Black s benefitted from this act and so indebted them to Republicans out of their ignorance. Many Blacks upon their deathbed forced their heirs to promise their loyalty to the Republican Party. President Johnson was the reluctant savior of Blacks as well however, he did not want to fall on the wrong side of history when his legacy was reviewed. He passed the Voting Rights Amendment only after the whole world watched innocent passive peaceful protestors attacked viciously by white-armed police. As the successor of John F. Kennedy’s initiated race relations Johnson actually completed the work that Kennedy had begun changing the way Blacks voted forever.
We committed to the Democratic Party and have followed suit ever sense. Chicago is a Democratic city in the State of Lincoln and has been since 1938 the 38th mayor, Anton Cermak, was sworn in 84 years ago. Cermak beat Chicago’s last Republican mayor, Big Bill Thompson, by 191,916 votes on April 7, 1931. The Great Migration instigated by Robert Abbott Sengstake, founder and publisher of the Chicago Defender was the movement of 6 million African Americans out of the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West that occurred between 1910 and 1970. During this time, roughly 1.5 million African Americans left the South for Chicago. The initial Republican reign was in keeping with the Black loyalty and once the Democratic machine was in place, Blacks fell right into place because they wanted a piece of the pie.
Since that time Black Chicagoans have voted Democratic remaining faithful to the party that opened its doors moderately providing opportunity never experienced in the south. Though not equal it was better than the alternative. This is how it’s been. Under Harold Washington as mayor, for the first time Blacks shared more equally than ever. Since then things have returned to business as usual with Blacks fighting for equal representation and opportunity. Still Blacks supported the Democratic party.
So when Republican candidate Rauner ran for governor, the majority of Blacks stayed true to the Democratic party yet there were a few wild cards who chose to break ranks and vote Republican. They were frowned upon and thought to have sold out, yet Willie Wilson, now mayoral candidate, a Rauner supporter explains it this way, “I am a independent thinker and reserve the right to support the candidate I feel will best support my interests and my community’s.”
Reverend Moss said that he was making a statement by sending a message to the Democratic Party that we are not bought, signed, sealed and delivered. So here we are facing the mayoral election 2015, February 24. Incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel who has not been the best guardian of Blacks and yet as we weigh the pros and cons we recognize that we have a responsibility to remind our elected officials that they work for us. We have to remind them daily of our interests and concerns. We must not abandon our charge after the election but instead commit to staying in communication with our alderman and the Mayor and informing them of our needs, acknowledging their accomplishments and reprimanding them when they fail us. So choose who you will as you see fit. Check out our City Vote pull out for how the Chicago Defender stands on the aldermanic race.