Black Lives Matter and Black Votes Count

This might be the most serious presidential election in our lifetime and one of the most important votes in American history. The candidates drastically differ and offer radical alternatives for America.

Republican Donald Trump is a wild card who appears to be posturing for something, but who knows what. Is he really running for President of the United States, or is he just heightening his brand name?

Trump is off the cuff even when he reads from the teleprompter. His answers are candid and the media that he has a love-to-hate relationship with does not hold him accountable for his statements. There is no Walter Cronkite type reporter out there. There is no Tim Russert.

Trump’s statements are short and brief and offer no explanation. He provides key words. But no matter how you look at it, Donald Trump is winning.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

He knocked out 16 of his fellow professional Republicans, just like a prizefighter. He has the Republican Party in a dither. He is gaining in the polls, which show a dead heat.

Trump is the positive thinker, the glib snake-charming salesman who is direct and speaks success. He will build the wall to keep the immigrants out, he will make America safe, and he will make life better for African Americans.

He will save us, just like Superman, but with no known plan.

Trump is the master of the media of our times, the Mr. Reality of politics. He tweets all things, the media reports his tweets, the media hosts news programs on reactions to Trump, thus he dominates the news cycle, so much so that he need not buy commercial time; the news media already gives it to him for free.

The Hillary Perspective
Hillary Clinton truly is the smartest one in the room, but she is not projecting it. She has to come on stronger with Trump to knock him down and I wonder if she is really up to it.

Trump is not playing polite, neither is he playing politics. He is playing the game of “win.” Hillary is playing the diplomat, while Trump is the bully. The best way to handle a bully is to knock him out. You can’t talk around him.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

For this reason I am nervous. I think it is important that Hillary could be the first woman president ever. It is important, but that fact is being played down by the campaign.

I think it is a mistake. Just like it would have been a mistake for President Barrack Obama to run like he was not African American.

History making cannot be ignored, even when it is obvious. It needs to be said. Jimmy Carter was the peanut farmer from Georgia; Ronald Regan the actor turned governor who became president.

The first rule in advertising is how do you distinguish your brand. Hillary is the most qualified and should she become president, will be among the most qualified ever to hold the office.

Barack Obama is among the most inexperienced presidents ever. Hillary used this fact when running against Obama in 2008 and lost. Barack on the other hand, had a campaign that stressed that he would be the first Black President in American history. It worked.

Hillary Clinton has been beat up for her emails. Damn the emails. It is much ado about nothing. It is a phony tactic to disgrace her. She should hold a press conference to end the conversation once and for all.

Black Lives Matter Don’t Vote
Members of the Blacks Lives Matter movement could hold the election in their hands.

In political terms, there is a generational difference in the Black community. The civil rights guys and the millennials are split. I am a proud member of the civil rights group. I recently interviewed Chicago leaders of Black Lives Matter, the hashtag movement.

I am impressed with them. I have joined a couple of their marches. I am looking at how they differ from the civil rights activists. I asked whom they are backing for the presidential election.

I was shocked with the answer – “We don’t vote.” Oh no! I almost screamed. I was told they were “moralists” like Dr. King. I blurted out, what the hell did you think the marching was about. It was for power, real power, that is, the power of the ballot box.

When I was a student at Roosevelt University in a political science class, I remember the Reverend John Fry coming to our class to tell us not to vote.

I was shy, but found myself challenging him. I said, how could you come tell us that when people in the South have died for the right to vote. Our people have paid a dear price to vote, with poll taxes and tests from how many jellybeans were in the jar to how many bubbles were in a bar of soap, and other stupid tests. These tests were judged subjectively.

Presidents matter. There is a world of difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Black votes count.

I led the political class, Black and White, in chasing Mr. Fry out of the school and making him and the professor look like fools. He didn’t come back.

Some years later after a couple of campaigns I am back at same place for a different reason. How can Black Lives Matter not vote? They can’t not vote.

Not only should they vote, but also they should endorse. And they should run for office. I was told during the interview they had about two million followers. Wow.

I asked the young man if he knew what two million votes could do. He looked at me with confusion. I said, darling you could win an election.

He repeated, but we don’t vote. I said, you can’t afford not to vote. He said, we just want to put a spotlight on the issue.

Questions And Answers
At that moment, I got it, the essential difference between the civil rights activists and the millinenials. Civil rights people want the change, they want to participate in the fullness of the change, they want to execute, they want to sit at the table and decide, and they want the solution.

Civil rights protest was about participation. You cannot raise the question and not have the answers. The Civil Rights Movement was about power.

Civil Rights March 1963

Dr. King had no hashtag, no Facebook, no twitter. He had to write the speech, make the speech without a teleprompter and raise the money.

He had to build a team. He had to organize. He had to motivate. He had to explain. He had to write the letter. He had to make the phone call. He had to meet the people behind closed doors and in the pulpit. There was no hiding.

Civil rights activists suffered the penalty for participating in the march and standing up. Some of the ladies who rode in the cars rather than sit on the back of the bus in Alabama, lost their maid jobs.

Some teachers lost their jobs because they marched with King. Some houses were burned to the ground, with crosses on their lawns, as they marched for their morals and the right to vote.

The Ku Klux Klan terrified some Black people and ultimately some lost their lives, like Medgar Evers of the NAACP.

A white man shot Lamar Smith of Brookhaven, Mississippi dead on the courthouse lawn in broad daylight while dozens of people watched.

The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a White man shoot a Black man. Smith’s murder was because he had organized Blacks to vote in an election.

Perhaps the millennials can be carefree because another generation paid the price and did the heavy lifting for their right to vote. The civil rights activists went to jail, have the dog bites and had their heads cracked, like Congressman John Lewis.

All for the simple right to vote. I always reflect on these things when people tell me they won’t vote.

This election will determine the course of this country for the next decade. This election will follow the first Black President of the United States. Every vote will count. This is not about a Facebook technology with likes.

Blacks lives really do matter and votes really do count. Black Lives Matter may determine the presidential election of 2016, one way or the other.

Presidents matter. There is a world of difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Black votes count.

Hermene Hartman

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1 Comment

  • I must admit, I had not heard that those within the Black Lives Matter movement will not vote. Now that I have (via this article), I am a bit taken aback. I am glad that there are those out there (yourself included, Ms. Hartman) who are respected members of the [national] community, emphasizing that the power in voting is as powerful as not voting. I understand that to withhold the vote could say as much as to get out and vote; however, it could lead to a step-back that could be hard to make up in the long-term. Short-term, HUGE voice; long-term, maybe not so huge.

    I am definitely behind the message that Black Lives Matter stand behind, but I hope, in the end, that those within will use the power they hold and get to the polls and help make it happen.

    P.S. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t feel as if Donald Trump is truly running for office, but that he is, simply, running to be running. I’m not even sure if he’s trumpeting his brand, as I don’t feel he needs this platform to further himself in the business community. And, that said, Black Lives Matter, should consider exercising their [right to] vote.

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