Say Brother; Black Politics; 601
Want. Like. Free.
Brother there's a program for and about the black community.
The black citizens of Boston have had the right to vote since 1764 the fight we waged to abolish slavery. Develop the skills of political organizing and the use of pressure groups for social and political change. These skills were then and continued to be prerequisites for political action at the start of the Civil War. Massachusetts was one of only five states where black people could vote in the period following the Civil War. Blacks were elected to seats in the Massachusetts legislature and in the Boston city Common Council during the 1700s. The West was in the process of taking its place as an effectively represented black community in Boston when the city decided to change its political boundaries by redistricting what was formerly the west in Ward 9 became divided into one section was included in the Democratic Party's Ward 8 which had the effect of diminishing black political power. The second half of the ward was combined with what 11 would 11 was predominantly Republican like the blacks of the West End. But the change made blacks a minority in the ward. This redistricting plan undermined the political representation that blacks in the West then had since 1776. The redistricting move seemed to coincide with a white backlash against the economic and political gains blacks were making following the Civil War. The second political restructuring in Boston that eroded black representation even further was the abolition of the Common Council in 1989 and its replacement with the present city council structure after the installation of the city council black elected representation in Boston was almost nil. And for all intent has not expanded since the new city charter took effect in 1989 only one black man has served on the city council and none on the school committee. But now how many of us are registered to vote and how many of us who are registered are voting in 1967. This is what the figures look like for registered voters and for people who actually cast ballots in the election for mayor city council and school committee in this election. Thomas Adkins was elected to the Boston City Council. By the time the 1971 elections were held seven thousand more black Bostonians were registered to vote. The disappointing fact is that with an increase of 7000 black voters only 400 more people actually turned out to vote in 1975. The numerical picture grew worse. There were over 6000 fewer registered black voters and an equal decrease in blacks casting ballots. Inevitably none of the three black candidates who ran for office were elected.
Good evening I'm James Rowe. The November elections for the city council and school committee in Boston where a bitter defeat for all who saw the need for black representation in Boston many political observers felt that all the necessary factors for a successful black campaign would present with advantage of hindsight. We're going to analyze what the November elections say about us as a community. With us this evening to explore these topics are Clarence day unsuccessful candidate for the city council Richard Taylor. Donald Bryant's campaign manager Louis Overby reporter for The Christian Science Monitor and John O'Briant unsuccessful candidate for the school committee. Welcome to say mother. Why do you think the black people of Boston were able unable to elect either of you in this past election.
I think there are many factors but one of the overriding factors is that in the city of Boston black people make up 25 percent of the electorate and it's very difficult for the black community to elect a person by themselves. It's necessary for the total Boston community to be involved and to participate.
Clarence what I say that but also I think I have to say that. We as a community are now registered that we look at it can you have the potential for about 70 to 80 thousand of voters about 23000 black voters turned out on the 4th of November. Also I think that we have yet to demonstrate and that's probably a reason for the first thing I said we get to demonstrate an identifiable game flowing in people by casting a vote which you do with John's campaign manager and you share the same opinion or have a different view.
Well obviously I think both of those points are good ones. I found too that it was also very difficult. To piece together a structure in the black community by that I mean some people would say Well look I can do all of your well for you I'll make sure that literature gets out. Make sure that the people get out to the polls. I'll have a poll count for you. I don't believe in even between our two organizations. Now there are some. Campaigns that have been able to put together some stronger organizations. I think perhaps on the Maryland level but I don't think the structure in the community is ready apart from talking about a candidate who can you go to on Elm Hill Avenue and say make certain that everyone on Eltingville Avenue votes and I think until we begin to organize our community on that on that level on that fundamental level we're not going to be able to deliver albeit 25 percent or be at minimum services. We're not going to be able to deliver whatever our maximum is. Look some of the generalistic continue.
Journalistically I think all of the gentlemen are correct. But I think that there is apathy in the black community in bringing out votes. It seems that if a few more really had gone out to vote. At least Mr. O'Brien could have been elected because he got more votes than I think any black candidate has ever received that election in Boston he got quite a few votes but he really didn't get the turnout. On the black votes that you might have expected. That was not an overwhelming surge to the polls by black people in the black communities as the was in the white community a lower percentage of blacks voted than in the white. I think Black was about 56 percent or something like that in the city average was 65 65 and that meant that the white average basically was probably around 70 percent. I think if we vote at 70 percent he might have been able to get it.
You think this says something about the commitment of black people putting a black person in elected office in this area in Boston in light of the situation in Boston now.
I don't think excuse me it says anything other than the fact that is what John was saying as I said before we're not organized to deliver politically. And I think that's a function of the city. The city is set up to disempower black people. It's a function of the fact that our elected officials don't have the power or they might have in other cities as a function of the fact that we have no patronage to dispense in order to build a political machine in our community. We have a very difficult job to overcome the real barriers that we have to building efficient black organizations. It's no secret that it hasn't been done before but the real reason is we don't have the resources and we haven't really shown our people wise to their best interest to vote.
Let's take an example for instance. There's a lot of talk around town now about two or three people who have an option on becoming a deputy mayor for the city of Boston. Well I think that's really insufficient consideration for the kind of support that our city our community gives to candidates running for mayor. A man we ought to be talking about economic development. We ought to be talking about development of the Dudley Street area. We ought to be talking about the Southwest Carter. We ought to be talking about the Roxburgh action program areas John Elliot Square. We ought to be talking about how we deal with some kind of political leverage economic development in the community. And I think that our sense of what is involved in a political election and what can be gained from a political election is not very clear. I don't think our agenda items are prioritized. And I think that goes back to leadership. And I think you know until we began to understand that we do have a lever and that I leave we can begin to gain something. We're not going to be able to demonstrate to people that there are certain goods and services associated with participating in politics.
We talked about organization when the votes were analyzed. It was founded by Kevin White who was re-elected as mayor and received more votes in the black community than you did John. And we see the most black folks when it's broken down. What does that say anything does that signify anything.
I think one of the things that we have to be careful about is generalizing in terms of the percentage of blacks and whites that live in Roxbury and know in Roxbury. There are a substantial number of white people living in what we call the predominantly black wards and I think that we have to be cognizant of that. OK. But my feeling is that in many instances I'm not making excuses for the electorate. OK. But I think it's important to look at also the atmosphere and the condition that we had in the campaign. And we're talking about phase one of desegregation that brought out a lot of hostility and a lot of violence. We're talking about a school committee who was able to arouse the white people in the city of Boston to be anti-black and I think that it's important for us to recognize that these are very difficult factors that we have to fight against.
It's really not making excuse for black people not coming out to vote. But I think we have to go back a long way to really analyze and look at some of the reasons why many black folk do not participate in the process in the city of Boston today.
Well I think that you're right there to a degree but I feel that this is probably why the question of leadership comes up. But then there's a question of what to gain. But I think that there has to be sort of a new approach because as long as black people keep dwelling on past inequities and deciding that well because this has happened in the past well there's nothing in it for me then to never work toward progress. Now I know that when we're talking about AIDS this tale of us saying what we should be looking forward to. I think that this is what we need to think more about. I felt that when Governor that the caucus came to the black community.
The people on welfare were well organized. And they were speaking from all corners of the auditorium. I think one or two people were representing the Southwest car or one or two people representing circle one two something else. But they were overwhelmed by welfare recipients and to govern the caucus. And if you notice in this discussion of the budget he did save some of the welfare budget. And to him. It would seem that this will pay off my that black folks and give them what they want.
Now I can go on and deal with my other constituency I can agree with John Lewis because there are more white folks on welfare and there are black folk and he let them you know. But the and I don't think that that meeting had any impact on him whatsoever. You know and I feel that I think we need to get back to what Richard was talking about in terms of what are we demanding from politicians who come in here to get our votes as you pointed out yesterday. There's a percentage of votes that the mayor got. Do we have that percentage of jobs and I think that's where we need to look at.
KEVIN WHITE got 23 percent of his vote from the black community and I'm talking about the black community not just wards 9 12 and 14. But parts of what 17 possible water 18 parts of Ward 13 pots of water 10 pots of water living. If you look at the black precinct citywide for 23 percent of his vote came from the black community we ought to get 23 percent of the city jobs. We ought to have at least one person on the beach already but there's there's five vacancies five holdovers. The deputy mayor I think ought to be a foregone conclusion. That's just peanuts. People ought to on the first chance they get called city hall and call the mayor's office and say we want the percent of jobs equal to the vote that we gave you 23 percent of its vote.
All right. What kind of art are you two gentlemen. Continuing your organization to me. The reason that you have this fragmentation is there's a lack of continuity. In other words people get excited over an election two years from now there'll be two different candidates running for these polls. People have to sell themselves on them first and then going to a new organization. And so there's no continuity in the people kind of lose out and don't remember the people.
What do you have to offer to get people to stay within an organization.
Well maybe you have to offer some get into these other things. I don't know if what you can do but if you're going to deal in politics you'll have to deal in the idea that. There's going to be a gain fall for this work that is being done.
Yes that's good and easy to say and I'm trying to do that. I'm not committing myself to running but I do. Have committed myself to continue what I've been doing working throughout the community. But what do you give a person. As a reward for working a number of hours to help organize the community. We don't control city hall patents. We don't control the state house patronage. And there is statehouse patch and it's contrary to what folks might believe. But we don't control these things and we don't control the great foundation bequests we are beset on all sides by a system that wants to keep us from organizing. What I said we have to do and it's a very small step is to make an ongoing concerted effort to register black folks as much as possible to have registration by mail that we are to make it as easy as possible for folks to register and then hope they'll come out there. I think there's a real fallacy that was put to rest in this past election saying was always be said that it would rain on Election Day and therefore black folks wouldn't come out and if it didn't rain black folks would come out in droves was not true as a lot of work it has to be done. But going back to what Luke said. John and I have just run campaigns and to varying extents we have deficits we also have to make a living. For us to do something and to make it worthwhile for other folks to do something. We've got to be able to take care of our own selves and also to give people some compensation of what happened for what they are doing. Why folks don't organize in a vacuum when we can expect to do this.
You know I'd like to come back to that point later. You ran an election. There was a mail election this past election. Now in an off year when the mayor isn't running because he runs for a four year term and city council and the school committee is a two year term do you think you might have had a better chance that it had been an off year. Richard perhaps as a campaign manager you could best.
Well no I would tend to think particularly with Kevin White running that we would probably have a better chance. A You have people are more conscious of the election. All people across the city and since these are citywide elections we need everyone who is as possible to be conscious of an election. So I would think overwhelmingly that we would probably have a better chance with the mayoral election because more people come out during that time. A more people vote more people we think will be sensitive to issues and particularly in this case we had the mayoral election we had Clarance running and we had John running our argument was that if you wanted to vote for John if you went to the polls you certainly would vote for Clarence. Maybe you would vote for the mayor if you want to if you wanted to come to the polls for Klan's you certainly would vote for John you may vote for the mayor if you were in the community and you were voting for the mayor. We would assume that you would cast two other ballots for Clarence and for John. So the argument is that there were sufficient incentives to get people to the polls one of which was happens to be the mayor's election. You know the other question the other side of that is if some of the issues were changed. OK. Were we not as sensitive to a black on the committee regardless of what the blacks positions were on education than you thought it was a factor. Well I think it was we found without a doubt that every place that we could get John into we would take leave take took John to the some of the deep seats of Dorchester if John had a farm and there John had an audience those people would walk out of him persuaded because they were so sensitive to the busing issue that once we started talking about quality education and he not only was the best candidate he was the best week of all of them. Once we got an opportunity to do that he would he would he would gain. So I think were the issues that I think everyone is went to city council members start running on bussing issues I'll never forget reading one of Clarences ads in the East Boston paper the only one with issues talking about the airport talking about a two or three neighborhood concerns. The rest of them were talking about keeping strong voices which has nothing to do with with the issues of being a city council. So I think the issues Clarence clearly would have done you know wonderfully had they been dealing with issues because he was the only issue or a candidate in the game.
You're looking at it from hindsight. I know this. Actually all the newspapers including us did come out in support of both Clarence and John because the newspaper editors recognise them as issue oriented candidates and not as racial candidates. Sometimes I wonder because this is one of the rare cities. That has. City wide elections for every low polls when most cities have district elections especially for the council. I would wonder if. People who are from Boston would think that a district election would have made it possible for them to get on more than I would think was a wise decision.
And I think the Senate seat as an example of that.
The fact that we now have Bill Owens in the Senate redistricting Yes redistricting to a point where you organize a district where it is possible for a black person to get elected guaranteed. Guaranteed Yes.
See that's fine. And as I look at the problem I think there are external things of which that is what their internal things and and the problem of redistricting the solution of redistricting does not solve the problem of our people becoming more active. It does not solve the problem it circumvents that problem it goes around the problem it goes up under that problem and I think there are some things that we still have got to face in our community that are going to somehow bring our attention to the fact that ridesharing may occur it may not occur but somehow we just have still got to participate.
Clarence and John would either of you consider running again in 1977 after this past election I would consider it but I have to have a lot of things different.
One thing we ran on a very much under finance campaign. We really didn't have. I think it was alluded to the support in the community that we'd like to have certainly we got 80 85 percent of the folks that came out to vote voted for John and I but we didn't get the groundswell of folk out to vote who need to vote unless we could get some indication of that. I wouldn't run and probably equally as important is the sense in the city has to be less polarized. If you look at Tom makin's vote in 67 he got probably three or four more times as many wife as he did black voters and that's got to be the kind of atmosphere or I think I can say that Joe and I will ever win so long as bussing and racism occupy the major focus of any political campaign.
How about you John. Well you know I tell people time and again that any time a qualified candidate runs it's a sacrifice it's a sacrifice because it's thankless in one sense and it's a sacrifice because it takes a lot of time energy and effort it gets me I cannot make any commitment at this point to run again primarily because with all the energy and effort that we put in the amount of money that we had to spend we ended up with about a seven thousand dollar deficit.
Now $3000 of that is a personal loan that I took out under my name which I'm responsible for paying money back to the bank every month. And I just can't afford to. I have a family I have five children and a wife. And I just can't afford to take my own personal resources like that and commit them to a campaign. So I I really have to give it a lot of thought and a lot of it is also going to depend upon how the court suit comes out around the at LIJ method of electing people to the school committee that will also be a factor in my decision.
With that in consideration if there were a black political organization that was designed to provide funds to assist candidates when they want to run for office to help them to organize the black community to do some of the things that Richard has talked about is there such an organization in the process of being.
Considered. Well I think the black political convention has tried this on several occasions but the black political convention just has not gotten the kind of community support that is necessary for such an organization to survive and to be successful. I have to go back again to the kinds of things that Clarence was talking about. You have to have something to offer people you know people are people regardless of whether they're black white or otherwise.
And although we have some very basic social and emotional issues that we can deal from it's always it's also necessary to have some kind of pattern that we need to be in positions of power where we can have jobs to offer where we can have a carrot if you will to put out so we can begin to form some organizations. When you look at Mayor Daley in Chicago when you look at Kevin White in Boston they don't get these organizations just by waving their hands. They're in power positions and they use their power to develop. And I think that at some point if we don't get that kind of power we need some kind of resources because you need full time paid staff to continually work on this you can't get people to volunteer to organize.
Jim maybe I'll ask. Rich tale I suppose you could gather grass roots group that would be willing to work and try to raise funds and do things like that to support black candidates. You seemingly have been one of the most effective since I've been here. Campaign managers I've seen them actually. Clarence also had a very effective. Manager tongue release. But both of you sort of seem to know something that you think that you would really be willing to work to try to help that kind of group.
Well. I'll tell you I think all the comments before about the time and energy. But I'm I'm still fairly young and I guess I can go maybe two or three times. These men are sort of try. I think they can continue but they've got different considerations. I think really. The financing. I think we could probably work. I mean I would have no problem saying right now an account could be arranged to start working over the next two years for John to run again. That's one level that can be done. We can get people to do that. But the other thing which concerns me most of all is going house to house going block to block. Speaking to people. What I really call and people who've been here chronologically citizens who still have transit mentalities who still do not have some loyalty to the city of Boston who do not have loyalty to the community of Roxbury we have got to begin to develop the fact that yes you may be from the south. Yes she may be from the West Indies. Yes she may be here in school for five six seven years but we have still got to participate in the political process and going over that and over that and over that and out of that coming up with that Captain on Elm Hill Avenue we can go to all that chart and say that is the man or woman who will organize the whole avenue for the things you want to do in your country.
Gentlemen briefly before we close what do you think that black people can do what can we do to heighten the political sophistication of black people in the Boston area and perhaps the state of Massachusetts.
Are you going to equate me a vote with a tangible benefit like a job with a contract and we're going to talk about politics. Let's realize that business and politics in a capitalist society are one in the same. If you're not politically strong you will never be strong business wise or financially.
That's got to be made known to Black John in the same way. Well I. I agree. I think there's no getting away from it. You have to have power if you don't have power to work from as a base. It's going to be very difficult. And as you can you can articulate a lot of things but if you don't have the resources to do those things it's going to be very difficult to do it.
I think there's an historical point too. Those points are well taken and that historical point is that for years people in Selma people in Montgomery and people in other parts of this country spend a lot of time ensuring the fact that we can vote and we need to make certain that those efforts those historical efforts are not in vain.
LEWIS I think that there does have to be a commitment to the black community to the idea that blacks have to have some kind of leverage and they cannot get leverage if they're not involved in the law making process and they're not involved.
In their government which makes the rules by which they must live. And unless we all are willing This means that we professionals have to lend some of our free time. To helping these candidates in some type of organization or nothing but maybe making a speech somewhere to get them together.
Let's clear up our deficits and hopefully we've offered some solutions.
Thank you very much for participating and save by this analysis of the past municipal elections.
After more than 100 years of prolonged struggle black people finally won the right to vote in order to maintain that rights and make it work to our advantage. We must first register to vote since last November. All little city halls have opened voter registration offices these offices are open from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. you are eligible to vote at age 18.
However if you are 17 now but will be 18 by the next election. You may still register. You must be a resident of Boston in order to vote in local and state election. If you're a newcomer to Boston and you registered before the last day of registration you will be eligible to vote in local elections.
College students can be considered local residents and are eligible to vote in local elections provided that they are not registered in their home state.
If you register now you will be eligible to vote in the upcoming national elections. When you go to the little city hall in your community to register. Be sure to take along some kind of identification such as driver's license a copy of a birth certificate or a college ID.
The registration form you will fill out. Ask for general information such as your name address date of birth and occupation.
If you knowingly place false information on the form.
You can be fined not more than one thousand dollars. And spend not more than one year in prison. You don't have to reregister unless you do a new address. You elect new department mails the census form to registered voters every year.
If you have been dropped from the registration list you will receive a notice and an omitted listing card. If you put your current and former address on the card and Miller back to the elections department your name will be reinstated on the list. The only persons who are not eligible to vote in local elections are non-citizens persons registered in other states. Those considered by law to be mentally incompetent and citizens who have previously violated election laws. Inmates in Massachusetts penitentiaries may vote in state elections by absentee ballot. If they were registered prior to their imprisonment However they cannot vote in city elections.
As you know 1976 as a presidential election year. Both Democratic and Republican candidates will be vying for the votes of black America in the past we have been a crucial factor in a number of successful presidential campaigns. The late John F. Kennedy's presidential election is just one example. In this segment I say brother we're going to discuss how black America can come away from this presidential election year with what we need to need to survive in America. With me is Dr. Ronald Walters of Howard University. Dr. Walters has this has devised what he calls a strategy for 1976 a black political party. Welcome to say brother Dr. Walters. Welcome brother. Why do you think we need a black political party in 1976.
Well I think we need a black political party because you mentioned 1972 and the critical role that black people played in the election of John F. Kennedy at the same time I think we ought to mention that we played that role quite by accident. It was an accident that black people played a role in the election of that president. I think that rather than leaving the potential political power of black people to accident what we really ought to be trying to do is to seek a way to systematically influence the electoral process and then we can do that. I think that that relates to our ability ultimately to begin to influence the delivery system of the political process.
So you feel that just because because black people primarily have voted democratic that it was an accident that we are in a position to make the difference in those elections.
That's right. Back in 1948 there was a book published by Henry moon honeymoon at that time and taken over the crisis. WB Dubois had been editor of the crisis and he developed a theory of the balance of power a way that the black vote could exercise the determining influence in elections. Well that theory has been around with us for some time but we have never really organized and disciplined our vote so that it could consistently become the balance of power. And as you say about the 19th and the election of 1960 with John F. Kennedy that was an accident that we had that impact. So what I'm seeking is a way by which we can organize black vote not just depend upon the individual whim of the voter or of the circumstance organized by votes in order to do that. Now there are conditions here. The most prime condition under which blacks can determine the balance of power is when the white vote is pretty evenly split. And that situation if we are organized we can consistently affect the outcome. My feeling is that 1976 has all of the earmarks of a situation in which there's going to be fragmentation with respect to the Democratic Party many candidates running the number of candidates. A number of candidates right and also a possible situation where the national election between the Democrat and the Republican Party will be close in both of those situations in terms of the Democratic Party's nominee. And in terms of the eventual presidential election. I think the situation is going to be tight enough that an organized black vote might be able to determine the outcome. But I keep stressing. Organization is the key because organization is the foundation of any organization party institution whatever have you.
Well what do you think we learned from say the 72 election. What was our position. You see then and how did you think we've lost out in that election. How do you think we positioned itself then what can we learn from that.
Well I think in 1972 we should have learned something. I'm not sure we did. I think we we developed a marvelous vehicle and the National Black Political Convention and in the assembly which came out of the convention. What that did was to say to us that we have the power to mobilize politically. That's no accident. Black people I think of always historically had the ability to mobilize. But what we had trouble with in 1972 was the bargaining mechanism. That was a strategy developed that I'm I'm sure you're familiar with the strategy was that we would have the convention out of the convention would come to national black political agenda. Right. We would take the national black political agenda to both the Democratic convention the Republican convention. That major candidate that said he was going to support most of what we wanted in terms of the agenda would be the individual we voted for. Now that strategy was sidetracked at the Democratic National Convention because many of the people who were involved in developing that strategy so that out that may be harsh but I think that we really should be harsh. But if it's true if it's true it's true. That's right. So I think that we learned that within the confines of party politics it sometimes is very difficult even though you have mobilized to form that mobilization into the correct kind of bargaining mechanism. I see that's one of the reasons why my strategy says that we can use the party system. But if the party system doesn't work take it out take the bargaining mechanism out of the hands of the professional politicians.
So what it does is it gives us options right down to the election. That's right to maneuver and be in the right position to get what we need.
That's right. Because under under my strategy if we go into the Democratic convention and black leadership is not satisfied with what they've got and the Democratic convention then the next logical step is to step outside of the convention and to run a write in candidate for president.
OK how could you explain a little more about the ins and outs of your strategy. It's it's very intricate and I think for our viewers would like to hear a little more intricately how it works how do you see it.
Well in a way it's very simple. I start with the proposition that it's not going to be so much a political party as it is a party strategy. Let me explain the difference. If we were talking about developing a black political party there would be many things that we would have to do in terms of national organization many legal things we would have to comply with federal law. We would have to comply with state law. Getting on the ballot. The new changes that have come in with campaign financing and so forth have made that very difficult almost impossible to do now. So I'm not talking about developing a formal national political party. What I am suggesting is that black organizations black political organizations black community organizations develop themselves into a coalition that would operate as a party.
What kind of organization do you see kind of being in the forefront of of that.
Well black politicians have a natural leadership role to play. But I also would hope that some of the stronger national black organizations would also join in to that. I see organizations like Operation PUSH being a part of it. I see some of your stronger professional groups that have stood outside of black electoral politics coming into it like social is right. Right. Your lawyers your social scientist these groups that have stood outside of politics coming into it. It's very interesting that some of our strongest organizations NAACP Urban League.
It's very difficult for them to enter forthrightly and the political activity right.
That's kind of they position themselves as being natural.
And I think we lose something. I think we lose something by having our strongest organizations historically to take neutral positions the very critical time in the black community and I think we need some leadership and we certainly need our strongest organizations to be much more direct in terms of presidential politics. So I see that this coalition forms the basis of a party strategy. And out of that would come a steering committee or a council of people who are committed to moving together and looking at what we learned from 1972. I think one of the problems was that we left the entire mechanism to professional politicians and that's why I'm suggesting that you have a community input. Now I would hope that that group would suggest that someone run for president. That individual would not run in all the primaries is too expensive. That committee didn't have the money now. So for. An individual to run in order to sell a program to get some visibility and to pick up ballots for a second ballot try at the Democratic National Convention I saw a second ballot because of the rule changes within the Democratic Party. Most of the delegates who go have to be committed to one of the major candidates on the first ballot and said That's right. That's a fair reflection of presidential preference. So I would I would think that what people could say was that all right we'll vote with you on the first ballot. But on the second ballot we're going to vote for our man so that what you have here is a mechanism for depositing black delegate votes with a black candidate. Now if that black candidate has the support. Of this coalition mechanism then he's going to be in a position to bargain with the major presidential figures for what for goods for services and I'm not talking about dollars necessarily for voter voter registration I mean that's important certainly. But I think if we are sincere about the fact that political activity leads to the delivery of goods and services that I think that ought to be the basis of the bargaining.
So we're talking more about programs. That's right.
Housing prob last time a housing program we're talking about whether or not that individual supports the Hawkin's Bill Hawkins how Freeville full employment is he behind H.R. 50. How does he define full employment. Is the structural change.
How much housing is he willing to put in the black community with the health care with the black political candidate be it kind of in a position to present the issues and speak to the issues that affect black black people before the convention.
Would that be his central role and that's the reason for going around the country in that interim period. Now if blacks are unsuccessful at the Democratic convention it seems to me then they ought to step out. They have to step outside of that framework you see in 1972 the momentum of the National Black political strategy ended with the Democratic convention. Now that's that's a little bit like saying that well. Even though the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have taken us for granted for so long that we're still going to end our political season where they are. And there's I think that that's a logic that we should no longer accept that we ought to be prepared to do exactly what George Wallace did. We ought to be prepared to position as many millions of black votes outside the party structure as we can in 1976. Very interesting to me that George Wallace is now perhaps the most important single person in the Democratic Party. And there's a lesson in that I think for the way in which blacks organize themselves.
It seems like he. He never stopped organized. No. You know any organized straight and straight to one election began.
He was still moving at right. And he didn't treat the party as his church or he treated it as a temporary political vessel.
It seems like that that's one of the things that has been lacking in the black community for a while is that ongoing political structure. It takes a good deal of energy and time to pull together an organization make it work effectively and have it be an ongoing kind of function. And when you have to do that every four years in the case of a presidential election every two years for for us to say a school committee or a city council election you you lose the momentum that you could gain during that that interim time.
Yes you do. And that's one of the reasons why I've been so concerned about the status of black political organization at the state level. We can talk about that two ways. First of all the Gary attempt to organize nationally and to have an ongoing apparatus between elections. But the other level of course and in a way more important is the state level. And I made it a minute trip and in June May in June of this year and what I saw was a surprising tendency on the part of blacks who were members of state legislatures not to come together and caucus not to organize on a state level. And that's particularly important when you look at the flow of resources. The flow of resources now particularly under revenue sharing dictates that you're going to have a flow from the federal establishment down to the state establishment down to the consumption level. That's a local government. If black elected officials black appointed officials if community organizations are not organized in their states to influence that structure it means that we're losing a tremendous opportunity. We're not really using politics at all.
Exactly. It seems when as you say when larger amounts of money are now going to be disseminated on that level it seems like all organization on that level is crucial strongly critical extremely critical.
And you you find the most Briest reasons for not organizing I asked many black elected officials will or do you have a caucus or do you have a statewide organization and they say well you know we are. Our position is such that we have egos and we well I accept that some people have a sense of importance about what they're doing because their jobs are important. But I would hope that not only black elected officials but appointed officials and community organizations would begin to see that they're really working in the common interest not in the interests of any one person.
Who do you think would be some good candidates for the black third party.
Well I think that there are a number of fairly outstanding individuals maybe not as well known around the country and I'm thinking of people like George Brown Lieutenant Governor of Colorado I'm thinking like Richard Hatch you're certainly I watched Richard Hatch over the last two years and he's a man of tremendous integrity.
I think I watched several other people who are not black elected officials at the community level who would make tremendous outstanding candidates who are not very well known for example who are getting on well I was I was thinking of some individuals around the country who run community organizations and if I mentioned the name nobody would know them. So it really doesn't do any good. See here is a chance I think to look below the level of the individuals who are ordinary household names. It may be important that you run a name under certain circumstances but I think it's far more important to run somebody with a sense of integrity to run somebody who believes fundamentally that politics is to be used to affect the condition of the black community nationally. And if you can determine that you have such an individual who has a proven track record of involvement then I think you ought to you ought to run that individual as opposed to somebody who just has a name.
And I see it seems like a basic component of your strategy is or seems like it would be that the ability to turn out the black vote or. One of the biggest problems I think facing the black communities around the country on a national and a local level has been the ability to do that many black voters over the last five or six years particularly have been alienated away from the the standard political process of traditional political processes in the country. How are we going to approach that. How do we get the black voter who who hasn't been voting to turn out to come together behind it and support the strategy by going to the poll and putting his vote in the box.
Well I thought I think first of all you started at the level of candidates and that's why I think that we you know we were talking about candidates if you get somebody exciting Fannie Lou Hamer could be president can be our presidential candidate if you get somebody important and exciting who people recognize that he's honest and has a sense of integrity and a long commitment. I think you start there. Secondly I think that blacks have been alienated for two reasons one because they see the tremendous ineffectiveness of politics in their communities. It is this system just hasn't worked for us. And I think that that alienates people from the system. I think that the other one though is that there is a general kind of malaise now with the impact of unemployment and many of the critical problems that face don't do anything politics anything else getting people excited I think is a test of the democratic system. In one sense we have to exercise initiative. We have to get excited. We have to believe that there is something to this that we can we can use it for. But secondly I think the system now has to prove to us that it works. No sense in us getting excited unless people actually see some good coming out of it. And that's the reason why I I am sure that politics for us cannot be an exercise in politics of politics sake but eventually we have to develop a mechanism for impacting on the system which delivers resources.
It seems that that many many people who might not be voting are also very dissatisfied with many of the things in their own community the kind of services that they get the kind of education that children are getting where their tax money is going to particularly when black people see our tax dollars go around the world to do some things that seem to be very much against our interest or say for example though the lack of aid that went to West Africa during that during the famine. These kinds of things so that I think the issues probably are there to really motivate people. But I think that will be the test of us and the.
And the strategy that she talked about then they see the tremendous disorganization in our communities. You know it's instructive to me that Gary and the politics in 1972 the Kerry convention was a search for political unity. I still think and in trying to develop this strategy what I keep saying is that the various politicians in our community elected appointed community politicians ought to continue that search in that theater for unity because there is nothing that turns people off quicker than seeing that the leadership is organized and so that in that sense we've got to look to ourselves as one of the sources of tremendous alienation that exists. I'm sure that when they see our politicians going pell mell after the Democratic Party. And the party promises six million dollars as they did in 72 for voter registration money. Promises promises and then doesn't deliver. And they in effect have been sold out that turns them off. So I think that we really have to continue the search for political unity but continue it in new ways in sophisticated ways. I think we've got to realize we're not going to come together maybe under the Official umbrella of a party like we did Gary but that doesn't keep us from developing say temporary coalitions striking because it's the same rhetoric that we use side of our community where we say we're going to develop temporary coalitions. Well it may be that we have to internally develop temporary coalitions and we may have to come together maybe 18 months before the national election. Develop that temporary coalition and work an effective strategy up to it.
It seems like another dimension of that strategy might be a vote raising money on a on a small basis on the local level. I'm very glad to have you here on the show today. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. That will be interesting to see over the next month how the strategy works out to see if people start to adopt it and it starts to become something that will help us in the future. Thank you for being with us.
The Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees is a group of technical and professional people interested in sharing their leadership skills and abilities in the community is Roxbury and Dorchester.
We recognize and accept the challenges for human development of black people and as a community many communities of people have talents and skills that go unnoticed and underutilized. Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees is all about bringing recognition to talented and skilled persons within its own community. Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees is about utilizing talented and skilled persons and assisting community members needing help on an ongoing basis. What the Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees wants to do is what we have heard many community people ask for that is we want talented people and skilled people to come together and pooled their knowledge so that the Roxbury Dorchester community has the money and the votes to get good representation and keep good community representatives. Thus some of our efforts may be political social economic cross-cultural our efforts may include getting jobs for the jobless for getting better jobs or underemployed. We may also be involved in youth development and development or simply domestic management challenges are open to the quality of our members. Therefore we are trying to perpetually bring in young people from the ages of 18 and over to develop themselves and share their development and upgrading Roxbury and Dorchester. We seek these people from within and from without the Roxbury and Dorchester community. Our only requisite is that person is coming in have a commitment to the Roxbury and Dorchester communities.
Some of the goals of the Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees include the following unifying wise and autonomous black people with the upgrading on the Roxbury Dorchester community take full advantage of the free enterprise system vides supplemental educational experiences to enhance the capabilities of its members help develop community people to assume high level positions in the community and for the community to have a diverse group of black people to represent the diverse interests of all black people in Roxbury and Dorchester Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees is a new organization needed you who dared to turn your complaints about the Roxbury Dorchester communities into constructive action for the community. We are open to new and creative ways of developing ourselves and the community we encourage many. And challenge song to become a growing part of our Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees. For further information call Jim Smith at 4 3 6 3 3 5 8 4 Donald Kro and 5 3 6 6 9 8. This is Donald Krogh Roxbury Dorchester Jaycees.
Own. On. June. 9. 9.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- Say Brother
- Black Politics
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- WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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- Program analyzes why African American candidates were unable to win appointment to either Boston's School Committee or City Council in the 1975 elections. Guest host James Rowe of WILD Radio News speaks with Clarence Dilday (attorney and unsuccessful candidate for City Council), John O'Bryant (Director of the Dimock Community Health Center and unsuccessful candidate for School Committee), Richard Taylor (John O'Bryant's campaign manager), and Luix Overbea (reporter for the Christian Science Monitor) about why African Americans in Boston were unable to elect Dilday and O'Bryant, what the election says about the African American community's commitment to getting people in office, if election results would have been better if it had been an "off" year election, if an organization for raising funds to support African American candidates is in the making, and what African Americans can do to heighten their political sophistication. Additional segments include a survey of Boston's voting statistics for 1969, 1971 and 1975, an interview conducted by writer/researcher Dighton Spooner with Dr. Ronald Walters (Associate Professor of Political Science at Howard University) about African Americans and the 1976 presidential election, "Information" on registering to vote, "Access" (on the Roxbury-Dorchester JCs), and the "Community Calendar."
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Guest2: Dilday, Clarence
Guest2: O'Bryant, John
Guest2: Taylor, Richard
Guest2: Overbea, Luix
Host2: Rowe, James
Interviewer2: Spooner, Dighton
Interviewer2: Walters, Ronald
Producer2: Rivero, Marita
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Identifier: 69ebcb7e25233e70423614007ea7fc689f5176ff (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
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- Chicago: “Say Brother; Black Politics; 601,” 1975-12-16, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-1z41r6n13b.
- MLA: “Say Brother; Black Politics; 601.” 1975-12-16. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-1z41r6n13b>.
- APA: Say Brother; Black Politics; 601. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_15-1z41r6n13b