al calloway.jpgFlorida is known as the bellwether state, a trendsetter or ringleader. In many respects, what happens in Florida is sure to spread around the country. So say political pundits and other social engineers.  It is hard to keep up with the many languages spoken besides English in Florida because much of the world is here.

According to various governmental sources, Flo-rida residents of African descent constitute some 14 percent of the state’s population. If you travel throughout the state, somehow that number simply does not jibe with what you see. There are black people nearly everywhere — in many places not necessarily mixed in with white people, including white Hispanics, but, nevertheless, somewhere close by.

Like other people, blacks gravitate to Florida from many places besides other areas of the United States. Blacks are here from the Caribbean, Central America and South America and most come speaking Spanish, Creole, French, Portuguese and Dutch. There are also many blacks here from various parts of Africa, Europe and the Pacific islands. And there are the mulattos, quadroons and octoroons who call themselves white.

There does not appear to be much, if any, wonderment as to the veracity of “official” counting of Florida’s black population. Oh, there have been mumbled rumblings here and there but no organized effort to get at the truth, to “trust but verify.” Florida government officials, whether Democrat or Republican, have long been confident that blacks will get only a miniscule amount of state and federal largesse, ergo the low numbers count.

Just that issue alone, the “official” count and its ramifications, should have stimulated, and still could stimulate, the black church, civil rights and community-based organizations, Greek letter groups, oh yes, and black elected officials to organize The Black Count. Activism in Florida could easily spread nationally.­

National black political leadership has not, and will not, come from longtime Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York (he has never been anywhere near as effective as his predecessor, the bodacious Adam Clayton Powell Jr.), nor from anywhere else. So, why not from Florida, the trendsetter state?

Similarly, and proof positive that real black census numbers are clearly understood, the new poll tax initiative promulgated by the state’s staunch white nationalists, is now in effect as state law. Though un-American and a contortion of the Constitution, the law is designed to disenfranchise segments of the voting population that traditionally vote against conservative and neo-conservative candidates, be they Republican or Democrat.

Dominant among voters who favor liberal and moderate politicians are most people of African descent throughout America. By instituting strictures to the ballot box by law, white nationalists cull the numbers of Democratic Party votes, especially the black vote and a large percentage of the Latino vote outside of Miami, and eliminate them from the process.

Since black politicians get their campaign funds from the same sources as white nationalists, namely the lobbyists and other minions of the plutocracy, there is scant will and no monetary resources readily available to counter un-American activities perpetrated against their constituents.

And there’s the rub — and there’s where the rubber meets the road. For bare before black politicians, in brutal simplicity, is the answer they refuse to see, indeed, cannot see, because, like the ostrich with its head in the sand, they are blind to reality.

That stark reality is the power of the people. Getting that together is predictably daunting. Black political leadership has to grab the reins and pull everything and everybody together.

Brothers and Sisters, you’ve got to organize and organize and organize, full time. Do this and wield real power and be independent of downtown interests. Serve the people righteously and they will be your armament and your army.

Organize The Black Count and organize block by block, precinct by precinct, against the fascist takeaway of the people’s right to vote. Organize for equity in education and criminal justice, in government contracting, in use of property tax funds. Organize for libraries to be open when working people can use them. And organize black communities against predators such as drug dealers and other criminals, police brutality and crooked mortgage lenders. Organize the black vote and get everybody eligible to the polls.

Organize, organize and organize.

Al Calloway is a long-time journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at

Photo: Al Calloway