A defining moment looms for Florida voters of African descent. The Aug. 24 primary elections, if virtually ignored, or not participated in correctly, could result in a push back against many gains made over time.
Of particular attention statewide are the primaries for U.S. senator and Florida governor. While most black voters are Democrats, in Florida there are more than 63,000 registered black Republicans. Those votes could be a determining factor in both the primary and November general elections.
It is late in the day, however, and no discernable voter education programs have been generated by black civic, church or social organizations – and certainly not by black elected officials – within areas of the state. Locally and statewide, the NAACP and other civil rights groups have, so far, opted out. It is both interesting and sad that no civil rights group is engaged in educating Florida’s black electorate.
But watch for the pop-ups. These are the candidates who will suddenly appear at the pulpits of black churches, especially on first Sundays and the last three Sundays before elections.
Do advance men for candidates work out payment schemes with preachers so that politicians, mostly theretofore unknown and unseen by churchgoers, get to woo black voters and leave with bonus photo opportunities for their campaigns? You better ask somebody!
In addition to the statewide political races, Florida blacks, and black people everywhere on planet Earth, should focus in on the judicial races in Broward County. For black people in Broward County, the end game is getting the 215,938 eligible black voters out to the polls on Aug. 24 for the primary election.
Here’s the reason why: There are 90 judges in Broward County. Only five of them are black (six are Hispanic). The other 79 are white with 47 of them being Jewish. Three of the five black judges are running for re-election. Suddenly, Jewish lawyers, prosecutors and others have decided to bankroll Jewish candidates to oppose black Circuit Court Judges Kenneth L. Gillespie and Elijah H. Williams, and also black County Court Judge Mary Rudd Robinson.
Actually, more black judges are needed in Broward County. Democracy demands that the current judicial disparity has to be dealt with. In no way can the black population of Broward County achieve any semblance of equity under the law with only five out of 90 judges. In no way is it equitable that 47 judges are Jewish, or a total of 79 judges are white.
Black elected officials at every level routinely coalesce with American Jewish support of Israel. At this juncture, over the issue of what I’ll call “judicial greed,” will black politicians and civil rights leaders reassess black/Jewish relations and call for a sit-down with national and local Jewish leaders? If not, maybe not in the short term, but almost certainly soon, black/ Jewish relations could hit a wall, smashing into it from either side, crumbling it irreparably.
What Jewish politicians may have calculated is Broward County black voting behavior for primary elections. If the usual ten percent or less of black voters turn out on Aug. 24, the incumbent black judges will lose. For the primary election of Sept. 5, 2006, black eligible voters numbered 181,671. How-ever, counting those who voted at the polls, absentee voters and early voters, only 18,786 blacks, or 10.3 percent of eligible voters, bothered to vote.
Only 27,414 Broward blacks bothered to vote in the 2008 primary election. Political power is economic power, it is transformative power. With it, positive social change can be had.
Freedom, justice and equality are not given, they are won! In order to win, black people must pay the price of participation. Black people must vote in record numbers, at all times. Whatever the sacrifice, black people must vote absentee, vote early, or go to the polls and vote on Aug. 24, and vote for the interests of black people.
Call the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office for any information you may need. For voter registration, call 954-357-7050. For absentee ballots, call 954-357-7055. For poll worker information, call 954-459-9911. On the Internet, go to www.browardsoe.org.