U. S. Rep. John Lewis, who represents a majority black district in Atlanta, and is a nationally celebrated civil rights survivor/hero, supported Hillary Clinton for president.
He, like many other black elected officials, preachers and other leaders, did so out of friendship with the Clintons – a friendship that began, in many instances, when Bill Clinton successfully ran for president and he and Hillary occupied the White House for eight years.
Lewis’ overwhelmingly black constituents, however, bombarded him with e-mails, phone calls and letters, and publicly began organizing a recall. They were fired up because he personalized the political power the people gave him to represent them!
From New Hampshire through South Carolina to Georgia, as the Clintons and their machine became increasingly caustic, arrogant and white nationalist, even as Sen. Barack Obama’s message won hearts and minds, more than 90 percent of black voters began supporting Obama for president.
Lewis got the message and declared through interviews and press releases that he had switched his support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama to reflect the majority will of his constituency.
If the behavior demonstrated by voters in Lewis’ district represents a possible paradigm shift from political inertness by black voters, then the rumbling you may hear in the near future could be the politics of containment tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.
Much like the mostly latent civil rights movement in Florida, however, the next level of political sophistication here may also be long in coming. Typically, black elected officials and other leaders heartily communicate with their black constituents or members, but only during election campaigns and organizational fundraising activities, hardly in between.
There are three black congresspersons in Florida, all Democrats. They are: U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Miramar, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville. All three supported Hillary Clinton. All three represent congressional districts specifically carved out as majority black districts to stifle a righteous charge of “taxation without representation.”
In these districts, getting a post office named for a black person is front-page news in black publications, played as a big victory for a congressperson. What’s not in the news is the rampant gentrification occurring in these districts. Municipalities and counties used combinations of federal and other funds, by any means necessary, to remove poor and near-poor, mostly black people out of the inner-city core.
Like Lewis before he got the people’s message, Hastings, for example, proudly exclaims that he supported Clinton because of friendship. He said he does not know Obama personally, which is intensely interesting since Obama is the only black U. S. Senator, and like Hastings, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
Furthermore, is Hastings admitting that he didn’t at least skim over Obama’s two best-selling books, Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope, which illuminate everything about the man, or that he didn’t bother to assign a staff member to render a report on both books?
The overriding point, though, lest we forget, is that Hastings and his other two Florida congressional cohorts were tone deaf, dumb and blindsided by personal preference over the will of black voters everywhere – across the length and breadth of the United States of America.
At least one CBC member and Hillary Clinton supporter admits that he has a problem with whether elected officials should do what their constituents want. U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri (also a preacher) told an AP reporter during the campaign that the issue “raises the age-old political question. Are we elected to monitor where our constituents . . . are . . . or are we to use our best judgment to do what’s in the best interests of our constituents?”
Now all the black Clinton supporters are saying they support Obama, claiming party unity. Clearly, Rep. Lewis can be trusted. The political future of some others could face challenges. One thing is definitely certain: The Barack Obama campaign has awakened the American spirit.
Every black person in America who is eligible to vote and is not registered must get registered now! On Election Day in November, we must all vote and make history.