The jabs flew once again during the Together We Stand Democratic Club 9th Annual Community Roast.
By C.B. HANIF
Special to South Florida Times
WEST PALM BEACH – Myriad themes filled the room when the Together We Stand Democratic Club (TWS) hosted its 9th Annual Community Roast, this year honoring Riviera Beach City Council Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson.
As always were the barbs aimed at the roast’s victim. Miller-Anderson was “born on a highway, because that’s where most accidents happen,” is how one of her young cousins kicked off the Dec. 9 luncheon quips.
That began a free-for-all of good-natured jabs from friends and co-workers, such as Mayor Thomas Masters, her Riviera Beach colleague. He had known her for 30 years, he said, but “It took me about 20 years to learn how to pronounce ‘KaShamba’.”
Masters added that he thought he knew her well, until he became her political consultant/campaign manager.
“KaShamba is one of the most intelligent, she’s honest, integrity, brilliant,” he said “But I have to tell you, of all the candidates that I have had the privilege of working with, she was the most complicated and complex candidate that I ever met in my whole life, honestly. KaShamba would make a bishop cuss every day.”
The evidence he cited included a day he visited her house to pick up some campaign signs when Joseph Anderson, also a longtime friend, wasn’t there.
“KaShamba came to the door, and I said ‘KaShamba I need some signs.’ She said they’re out there in the driveway. I said ‘KaShamba, I gotta use the restroom.’ And she said, ‘I don’t let no man in my house when Joe ain’t here’.”
With the West Palm Beach Marriott crowd rolling in laughter, he continued:
“I said KaShamba – and I’ve been knowing this girl 30 years – KaShamba, I gotta use the restroom. What am I going to do? She said ‘I guess you’re going to find a tree.’ … I just happened to know an old lady across the street, and she said ‘Mayor, didn’t you just leave KaShamba’s house?’ I said yeah, you know she’s crazy.”
On a serious note, the mayor called Miller-Anderson the best council chair in the city’s history, adding that he expects she’ll win her upcoming re-election contest by a landslide, because “we’re on the right side of the issues.”
For some, that was a reference to the council’s inexplicable recent firing of the city manager, which has the city government being referred to as a “train wreck.” Miller-Anderson was on the other side in the 3-2 vote.
That particular undercurrent in the room also was touched upon by the master of ceremonies, West Palm Beach Commissioner Cory Neering. In a housekeeping item he mentioned that attendees would be charged for parking, but “I spoke to the chairwoman, and we have the city’s credit card, so no one will have to pay” – an obvious reference to recent news reporting that city officials had gouged taxpayers by grossly abusing travel expenses.
Another elephant in the room: The event came against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton was favored, but Republican Donald Trump ended up in the White House.
In the Call to Action that has become a staple of the event, State Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Delray Beach, challenged local, state and national Democrats on the definition of a true leader. The question, he said, is: “Who have you prepared to replace you?”
Jacquet lauded stalwarts in the room known for doing that, such as Edith Bush, executive director of the Martin Luther King Coordinating Committee. Another noted presence was TWS founder James Drayton – mentor to innumerable officials in the room, including current TWS President Joseph Anderson, husband of the honoree.
In contrast, Jacquet decried “what we see happening in our communities: One person on top, who is just hogging it, and it is not allowing other people to grow. And it chokes the community.”
He stressed economic power and political involvement as two key areas needing focus. “If we’re not actively creating opportunities for more of us to sit at that table, then we can’t stand together,” he said. “I always say if you’re not at the table you’re on the menu.”
He also emphasized that Democrats “have to build political power from the ground up. In our party, we’ve been working backward … because we haven’t supported someone at the city, county level, on up.”
The same applies in poor white communities, he said. “Do you know that they deal with police brutality as well? It’s an economic problem … We know there’s a race issue. But if we focus on economic empowerment, we can start to solve way more problems.”
The organization’s sacrificial lamb this year, Miller-Anderson, spent most her closing comments thanking friends and family, notably her husband. Founder Drayton recognized has as one of TWS’s hardest workers, and “for being a staunch member our club for many years.”