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Posts Tagged ‘politics

Rising Star Terri Sewell Named As Woman to Watch in Politics

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By Bridgette Outten,

Terri Sewell, who is running to be the first black woman to represent Alabama in the U.S. House of Representatives, was recently named as one of the “Next 10 Women to Watch in Politics.”

Voters will decide today if Sewell will be on the Democratic ticket for the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Artur Davis.

But, “no matter what happens,” Politics Daily declared, “Sewell has already built a record of success that would have most high achievers calling it a day.

“The Harvard-trained lawyer was the first black valedictorian at her high school in historic Selma, Ala.  From there, Sewell went on to Princeton, where she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s College Women of the Year, then Harvard Law School and Oxford University in England. She worked as a corporate lawyer in both New York and Alabama, where she also worked pro-bono cases for school districts looking to raise money.”

Sewell’s opponent, Shelia Smoot, is also a black woman, so history will be made either way, the Flint Journal reported.

Written by Symphony

July 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Race in 7th Congressional District could eventually send first black woman from Alabama to Capitol Hill

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By Thomas Spencer, Birmingham News

Arguably one of the most consequential races on Tuesday’s ballot is the Democratic run-off between lawyer Terri Sewell and Shelia Smoot, the Jefferson County commissioner who is giving up her seat for a shot at representing Alabama’s 7th District in the U.S. Congress.

Though Republicans Don Chamberlain and Chris Salter also face off Tuesday for a shot at the seat, the winner of the Democratic contest will more than likely win November’s general election and become Alabama’s first black congresswoman. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic: 84 percent of the voters in the district, which covers sections of Birmingham, Bessemer and Tuscaloosa along with most of the counties of Alabama’s Black Belt, selected the Democratic ballot in the June primary.

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Written by Symphony

July 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Essex County lawmaker Sheila Oliver positioned to become next Assembly Speaker

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Source: Newark Star-Ledger

sheila-oliverNewark native Sheila Oliver grew up among a family of labor leaders and civil rights activists — including a grandmother who organized a union at the Jersey City cigarette factory where she had worked in the 1930s.

On her block lived Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th Dist.), then an Essex County freeholder and president of the neighborhood watch group, and he became one of her earliest mentors.

So when the offer was dangled in front of Oliver to compete for the Assembly speaker’s post, the three-term Democratic legislator said she jumped at it, hungry for the chance to ascend the political ladder.

“My years in the Legislature have taught me if you want to be a catalyst for change, you have to be in the driver seat,” said Oliver, 57, an East Orange resident and assistant Essex County administrator. “I said if an opportunity existed I would be interested, no question.”

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Written by Symphony

October 1, 2009 at 8:48 am

He dared to dream long before Obama

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by J. Scott Orr, Star-Ledger

donald_payne_medIt was a chilly November day in Newark and Donald Payne was reflecting on dreams, both his and those of black America.

“Nothing is as powerful as a dream whose time has come,” Payne said of a political victory that had taken longer than many expected, but nonetheless signaled a breakthrough for African-Americans and their representation in Washington.

“Sometimes a political leader is marching a little in front or a little behind the people, but once in a while the marcher and the drumbeat are in exactly the same cadence, and then, finally, good things happen,” he said.

Coming as it did, on Nov. 9, 1988, Payne’s statement had nothing to with President-elect Barack Obama and his history-making ascent to the White House. Still, 20 years later, the Newark Democrat’s thoughts are as valid and reasoned as they were on that day in 1988, the day after Payne was elected to Congress as New Jersey’s first African-American House member. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Symphony

November 30, 2008 at 9:38 am

Tears Flow, Tens of Thousands Cheer as Barack Obama Officially Becomes First Black Nominee

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by Michael H. Cottman, Black America Web

On the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, Barack Obama stood before nearly 85,000 cheering supporters, accepted the Democratic nomination for president of the United States and stepped into history as the first African-American to lead a major political party on a quest for the White House.

His words, his vision for the nation and his profound passion for change, brought tears to some in the multi-cultural throng of Democrats who are solidly behind Obama on his unprecedented journey.

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More history made in Cowpens as African-American takes office

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by Craig Peters,

COWPENS – A town with a long line of history on Friday had room for a little more.

Roy Logan was sworn in as the first African-American member of the Cowpens Town Council on Friday afternoon, a day which Mayor Michael Hamrick called “momentous.”

Logan won a run-off election against incumbent Brenda Adair on May 20. He said the opportunity to serve the citizens as an elected official didn’t seem realistic years ago, but said he’s seen “so much progress in the last 20 years.”

“I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see this day, much less be part of it,” he said. “I hope and believe I can bring the community closer together.”

The 67-year-old retiree got involved on community committees and enjoyed the work. He said others encouraged him to run for the council.

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Written by Symphony

July 13, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Maryland elects 1st black woman to Congress

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by Stephen Manning
Associated Press

Democratic lawyer and nonprofit executive Donna Edwards won a special election Tuesday to become Maryland’s first black woman elected to Congress.

Edwards beat Republican Peter James in the race to serve the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn’s term in Maryland’s 4th District. Wynn left office May 31 to take a lobbying job after losing to Edwards in February’s Democratic primary by 22 percentage points.

Edwards, 49, will hold the seat for the rest of the year. James also won his party’s primary in February, meaning he and Edwards will face each other again in November’s general election.

Once she is sworn in, Democrats will have 236 seats in the House to Republicans’ 199.

The victory also gives Edwards a chance to establish some seniority if she is elected to a full term. A half-year spent in the House could give her a slight edge over other incoming freshmen, such as better committee assignments.

Edwards most recently led the nonprofit Arca Foundation. Her win in February was her second try at the seat after losing to Wynn in 2006 by a slim margin.

With about 25 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Edwards had 93 percent of the vote, or 2,853 votes, to James’ 6 percent, or 189. Voter turnout appeared to be low.

Buoyed by support from powerful interest groups and unions, she capitalized on voter distaste for Wynn’s positions and votes on issues like the war in Iraq and the housing crisis.

James, 52, of Germantown, focused much of his campaign on trying to alert voters to what he says are fundamental flaws in the nation’s banking system. He describes himself as a Republican in the vein of Ron Paul, the libertarian-minded Republican presidential candidate.

Maryland’s first black elected congressman was Parren Mitchell, who served from 1971 to 1987 in the 7th District, according to Jennifer Hafner, the deputy director of research at the Maryland State Archives.

Written by Symphony

June 19, 2008 at 1:16 pm

First African-American Republican since Reconstruction elected to state house

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by Jeremy Turnage

Tim Scott became the first African-American Republican since Reconstruction elected to the South Carolina State House after Tuesday’s elections.

Scott will be representing District 117 at the State House.

Scott was formerly the chairman of the Charleston County Council.

SC Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson congratulated Scott for his victory.

“I couldn’t be prouder that Tim is the first African-American elected as a Republican to serve in the South Carolina State House since Reconstruction,” Dawson said.

Obama’s moment also a major juncture in US history

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by Adam Gellar
Associated Press

The principle that all men are created equal has never been more than a remote eventuality in the quest for the presidency. But with the Democratic nomination finally in Barack Obama’s grasp, that ideal is no longer relegated to someday.

Someday is now.

It is a history-making moment — though Obama is not necessarily the candidate many might have expected to make that history. He is the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas. He’s too young to remember the civil rights struggle, let alone to have been a soldier in the fight.

“He was impossible to anticipate,” says Shola Lynch, director of a documentary about the 1972 campaign waged by Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the New Yorker who was the first black woman to vie for the presidency.

In a country whose self-identity has been warped by racial prejudice since the beginning, this moment has taken an eternity to arrive. Or, viewed over the spectrum of a long, painful history, relatively little time at all.

After all, it has been just 45 years since Martin Luther King declared his dream for a colorblind America, just over 30 years since Mississippi disbanded the sovereignty commission that fought to maintain segregation and deny blacks their rights.

Other notable black candidates have run for the highest office. Some waged serious campaigns that, at least when it came to the prospect of winning the nomination, were never taken seriously.

“I grew up and matured in the height of the civil rights movement and there was no thought then of a black man being president of the United States. We had barely begun to vote then,” says Ronald Walters, who served as deputy director of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s run for the presidency in 1984.

“It was hard for us, even in the Jackson campaign, to get our arms around this, the fact that there would be a black president of the United States — even though we were running,” says Walters, now a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland.

But even as they marvel at Obama’s rise, Walters and others say it will take time to appraise what it says about the nation’s political and cultural state of mind. Can he be elected? How long will it take before other viable black candidates — not to mention women — compete for the presidency?

Obama’s likely nomination is a milestone, but it is not at all clear where that marker is posted. His ascendance could prove to be a fairly isolated event, the creation of extraordinary coincidences, or something more.

“The nation has come a long way,” when a major party demonstrates its support for a presidential nominee who is not a white male, says Thomas J. Davis, author of the book “Race Relations in America” and a professor of history at Arizona State University.

But “what does it tell us aside from that fact, which we can see right before our eyes?”

Some may see Obama’s success as marking a revolution in the politics of race. In fact, it’s the latest incremental step — albeit the most noticeable one — in a gradual evolution.

By the early 1960s, pressure was building. Activists clashed with police in Selma, Ala., in a history-making demand for the right to vote. Congress passed the National Voting Rights Act to eliminate the literacy tests many Southern States used to keep black voters from the polls. That led to much greater black voter participation and the first significant entry of black candidates and office holders.

Change came, but slowly. In 1965, Massachusetts voters chose Edward Brooke for a Senate seat, but it wasn’t until 1993 that another black candidate was elected to the chamber.

In 1972, Chisholm, a New York congresswoman, became the first black woman to pursue the presidency, waging a campaign to end the Vietnam War and give voice to the silent in the nation’s policy-making. Jesse Jackson followed in 1984 and 1988, paving the way for the candidacies of Alan Keyes, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun.

Still, it wasn’t until 1989 that Virginia made Douglas L. Wilder the nation’s first black elected governor.

A majority of Americans said the country was ready for a black president, but that was far from making it reality.

“The fact is that there were no African-Americans who were in a position to run for president at that time so what people would say was really pretty irrelevant,” said David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank focused on issues important to black Americans.

Voters did not really begin to contemplate the idea of a black president as anything beyond an abstract until the 1990s when Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff during the Gulf War, gained wide admiration.

Now, the irony of Obama’s achievement is that much of what it represents is not about the color of his skin.

Obama, at 46 too young to remember the civil rights era, has run a race that, at least when possible, has been deliberately not about race.

He steered clear of a campaign like Jesse Jackson’s, which shaped itself as a fight for the rights of minorities and the poor. Instead, he promised an era of change, an idea that found broad support among different groups of voters. He excluded many of the civil rights leaders and others — from Jackson to Al Sharpton — who would have defined him as a black candidate.

He spoke about himself not primarily as a black man, but as a man whose story was uniquely American.

“Was it about race? No, it was about electability,” Walters said. “The racial aspect of his agenda is missing, the racial politics are missing. So really all you have left is the symbol of the person.”

The result is a prospective nominee whose candidacy is weighted with the possibility of cultural significance, but maybe not in the way that might have been imagined. It is less a testament to rising black political fortunes than to the power of a fast-changing social dynamic.

In the ranks of black politics, the baton is being passed from leaders rooted in the fight for civil rights and social activism to a new group of young, educated and energized politicians with their own point of view.

At the same time, the nation’s electorate is less strictly defined by black and white. That is partly the result of immigration and the growth of other groups of voters. But it is also a sign of assimilation, intermarriage and the arrival of younger voters with different sensibilities.

“America is in the midst of a significant demographic shift and Barack Obama in his person represents a significant element of that shift,” Davis says.

Today’s teens have much more experience with people of other races or mixed races than did their parents. While Obama’s story doesn’t reflect the typical African-American experience, it does speak to this new generation that is less polarized by race — tomorrow’s voters, Bositis says.

His candidacy should act as a signal to these voters, whether they’re young black men or young white women, that people like them can dream, realistically, about being president, observers say.

Politics is a lagging indicator of that shift. But Obama’s message of change taps into it.

“People are thirsting for a new face, a new voice and he’s set to go,” Walters says.

The Obama candidacy reflects a country that is at, or at least near, the point where a generation that has long held on to power must cede the spotlight.

But the general election campaign to come is likely to remind us that the nation, despite its maturation, remains conflicted about race.

“Race is so tender and temperamental an issue in U.S. society and politics,” Davis said. “It won’t be a major issue overtly, but under the covers it’s going to be an issue, absolutely.”

In recent polls, about three of every four voters said the country is ready for a black president. Obama’s nomination offers the first chance to put that assertion to the test.

Many black voters remain skeptical. Significantly fewer of them say they believe the country is ready. Their doubts are a reminder that Obama’s claim to the nomination, while a milestone, does not resolve the country’s long entanglement with racialized politics.

It reminds Walters of a day, 50 years ago, when he led the nation’s first sit-in demonstration at the whites-only Dockum Drugstore lunch counter in his hometown of Wichita, Kan. Back then, the prospect of a black president was unimaginable.

Now, with Obama one step away, “it’s tremendous pride in the fact that this is occurring,” he says. But that pride is tempered by “a sense of realism and caution about what can be achieved.”

Written by Symphony

June 7, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Barack Obama became the first black man in U.S. history to win a spot on a major party presidential ticket

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by Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

ISSUE: Barack Obama is the first black American to win a major party presidential nomination.

This is the country whose founding document considered black Americans three-fifths of a person. A country where blacks were barred by law from sharing the same pools, drinking fountains, hotel rooms, even wedding vows with whites just a few decades ago. Where the nation’s highest court had to force public schools to give black children a quality education on par with white kids.

America, the land of equal opportunity, has delivered a decidedly unequal reality for a number of its own citizens over the centuries, both as New World colony and world power. But we are not the sins of our past, just students of it. And there is no question the nation has evolved, imperfectly but definitively, even as recently as the days of Jim Crow and George Wallace’s defiance at the schoolhouse door.

Now comes a new milestone to mark the progress.

This week, 43 years after African-Americans were first guaranteed an unfettered right to vote, Barack Obama became the first black man in U.S. history to win a spot on a major party presidential ticket, coming from near obscurity to beat one of the biggest names in modern politics and clinch the Democratic nomination for president.

How he did it, with class and dignity, says as much about the man as the country that made his journey possible.

No matter what you think of the freshman senator from the South Side of Chicago, his politics or his chances of ultimately winning the White House, you have to appreciate this seminal moment in our nation’s history.

‘Skinny kid’ moved millions

Barack Obama, the “skinny kid with the funny name” and the biracial lineage, was able to move millions of Americans — many of them first-time voters — to do what has never been done before, in any Western country.

And the world is taking notice. Today, America is the buzz in coffee shops and workplaces around the globe, and for perhaps the first time in a long time, the vibe is favorable and America stands a bit taller, a bit straighter in the world’s eyes.

What would Martin Luther King Jr., 45 years after dreaming that his children would one day “be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” say on seeing that moment arrive on this grand stage, much sooner than many ever imagined?

Surely, he would smile. Surely, he would revel in the moment. And surely, he would say it’s still not nearly enough.

Still ground to cover on racial harmony

Obama’s place in history does not mean America is not still divided by race. The furor over the remarks of his former pastor, and even Obama’s difficulty in appealing overwhelmingly to white voters, proves there’s significant ground to cover on the racial harmony front.

And it doesn’t mean there is now a level playing field between the races. Poverty statistics, the racial makeup of U.S. prisons, the learning gap between white and non-white, and the relative shortage of black faces in the upper echelons of business and power testify to the nagging deficiencies left to overcome.

But it shows that America can overcome. If a black man can be one of two finalists for the highest office in the land, his race no longer defines him; it merely colors his story, and we all move one step closer to the color-blind society King envisioned. Already, we are the kind of society where today’s children are much less preoccupied by race than their parents or grandparents, where among Obama’s biggest support comes from the youngest voters and on college campuses, and where, had he lost the nomination, we would be celebrating a different historical marker: the first woman presidential nominee.

Campaign a horse race

Celebrating this moment is not to say Obama is the better of the two candidates for the job. There will be plenty of time over the next weeks and months to parse out the remainder of this horse race for the 44th presidency, to determine Hillary Clinton’s role in bringing her party together, to size up the strengths and deficiencies of both Obama and Republican nominee John McCain. And for voters to decide based on platforms and positions, and not on race or even inflexible partisanship.

But in these first days of Obama’s remarkable achievement, it’s fitting that a nation that once considered his ancestors no more than chattel take a moment to reflect on a black man’s arrival on the world’s biggest stage, his invitation to our country’s most important contest.

Today, America is still far from perfect, still a student learning from past mistakes, and making new ones. But if America is ever to deliver on its promise of freedom and equality, racial barriers must be broken. Obama’s historical bookmark shows it’s no longer just a dream.

BOTTOM LINE: The nation should pause to reflect this seminal moment in history. The hard-nosed campaign will begin soon enough.

CA installs 1st black female top legislator in US

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by Samantha Young

California on Tuesday installed the nation’s first black female legislative leader, swearing in Los Angeles Democrat Karen Bass as speaker of the state Assembly.

Bass said at the ceremony that she feels the weight of history on her shoulders.

“If we could only harness the power of our common humanity, I don’t think there’s anything we couldn’t do for the people of this state,” she said.

The 54-year-old becomes the 67th speaker, succeeding fellow Los Angeles Democrat Fabian Nunez. He is relinquishing the post at the end of the year because of term limits.

Bass was a physician’s assistant before being elected to the Assembly in 2004 and is known for writing legislation on child welfare and social justice issues. As speaker, she will hold what is regarded as the second most powerful post in state government behind the governor.

Bass takes over the 80-member house as lawmakers are turning their attention to the state budget. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release his revised spending plan for the coming fiscal year on Wednesday and has estimated a deficit as high as $20 billion.

Bass will be among leaders who try to broker agreements on the budget and other major policy issues. She will appoint chairs to legislative committees, set staff budgets and largely control what legislation reaches the Assembly floor.

California’s Assembly is the first state legislative body in the nation to be led by a black woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Washington state, Rosa Franklin holds the largely honorary title of Senate president pro tem.

Written by Symphony

May 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

Barack Obama wins South Carolina primary

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barack_obama_portrait_2005.jpgIllinois senator Barack Obama won his second state in his bid to become the Democratic presidential candidate. His first was the Iowa caucus.

Exit poll results indicate just over half of Democratic primary voters were black this year — the highest turnout among African-Americans in any Democratic presidential primary at least since 1984, reports ABC News’ Gary Langer. Women accounted for six in 10 voters, similar to their 57 percent turnout rate in 2004.

Read more at 

Written by Symphony

January 26, 2008 at 8:26 pm

Barack Obama wins Iowa caucus

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Sen. Barack Obama won the first prize of the race for the Democratic nominee by taking Iowa over  (2) John Edwards and (3) Sen. Hillary Clinton. Obama is the second African American after Jesse Jackson to win a presidential primary. Jackson won Michigan.

“We are choosing hope over fear, we are choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America,” Obama told thousands of cheering supporters.

Read more at Yahoo

Written by Symphony

January 3, 2008 at 11:53 pm

BET gets interviews with presidential hopefuls

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With the title “Whats in it for us?” BET will run specials with 2008 Presidential candidates starting on January 8, 2008 with Sen. Barack Obama. The episode featuing Sen. Hillary Clinton will air January 15, 2008.

The Obama and Clinton WHAT’S IN IT FOR US? specials are the first in a series of BET News specials that will explore how life in Black America would change if a particular candidate wins in 2008. Pamela Gentry of BET serves as executive producer of WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?. Tiffany Tate and Andre Showell are producers. Keith Brown is Vice President of News & Public Affairs, BET.

Read more at FOX Business

Written by Symphony

January 2, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Cynthia McKinney runs for President

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Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has decided to run for president on the Green Party ticket. McKinney says she is on the ballot in four or five states.

McKinney, who served in Congress as a Democrat, quit the party in September.
”Being green, feeling green, but not being a Green. The structure of politics doesn’t fit my values so you have to find where your values do fit,” she says.

Read more at Atlanta Daily World

Written by Symphony

December 28, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Emma Brooks makes Stratford (CT) first

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Two weeks ago Emma Brooks was sworn in as the first black woman to ever serve on the Town Council in Stratford, CT.  What makes her election even more gratifying is the disturbing racial divide that has occurred in the last few years.

 It is a town where the White Wolves, a white supremacist group, was established by Stratford High School students within the past decade, and where Council Minority Leader Alvin O’Neal, D-2, accused a white police officer of police brutality while arresting a teenage girl and himself during a melee in the predominantly black and Hispanic South End two years ago.

What does her election mean to Brooks? “My election symbolizes change, and to me the possibility of moving forward on racial issues in Stratford where we are making progress.” Brooks also sees her election as a chance to inspire young Black girls.

Read more at Connecticut Post

Written by Symphony

December 24, 2007 at 10:24 am


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