I attended a political forum this weekend sponsored by the Harold Washington Legacy Committee, a small group raising civic questions headed by Josie Childs, a Harold Washington confident. Josie has kept a core group of Washington supporters together to discuss civic engagement.
The forum was for the candidates for the Office of Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, all of whom are Black, to discuss their platforms. Only three showed up. Attorney Ernesto Borges and activist journalist Afrika Porter moderated the discussion skillfully.
The crowd represented Black diversity, a range of ages, professions and various degrees of political involvement, from novice to candidate to community organizers who have won various levels of campaigns.
The conversation was vibrant. People are woke at all ages. Black people are sick and tired of discrimination and racism at every level. People see the decline of schools and the takeover of public education via charter schools.
People are sick and tired of the violence and crime on the streets at every level. People are sick and tired of Black redlining in housing. People are sick and tired of lack of business opportunities and business development in the neighborhoods.
Black people are sick and tired of being pawns and ultimate consumers and voters, with zero return. Black people are disappointed. So, political change is in the air.
People see through the billionaire campaigns. People see through the ministers taking money in the pulpit. People resound in Harold’s cry to take the ham or the turkey, but vote for me.
With a very loud voice people talked of a mayoral change, although the discussion was about the governor’s race. South and West side residents are disgusted with Rahm Emanuel, as he has shown a difference in how he deals with different communities, particularly with school closings.
Black people are very sophisticated in analyzing the problem and discussing it. At one point in the forum, there was an audience cry asking for solutions. What would you do if elected, was the central question.
Some are politically naïve, some are politically sophisticated, and some are politically experienced. People are tired of the political promise and are seeking solutions at all levels. People are insisting on accountability and responsibility.
Black people are tired of the political promise and are seeking solutions at all levels, insisting on accountability and responsibility.
Coming soon is a Black Agenda. It is in formation. It is simple. Stop the crime. Economic equity and economic development are at the forefront of the discussion. Proper education in all neighborhoods with equal funding. Simple. The Black Agenda is clear.
No matter who wins the Democratic and Republican primaries on March 20, they will have to come with solutions, not promises. The Black community will leverage its vote this year.
If Pritkzer wins the Democratic nomination for governor, in a November run against Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, there will be money flowing on the streets. There will literally be a political auction, asking which billionaire will lead. The TV stations will go beyond their advertising projections with this political season and will smile all the way to the bank.
If Chris Kennedy wins the Democratic nomination, there will be a battle with Rauner over true reform and democratic principal. Reform is coming and Kennedy will be the one to challenge the party, the process and the philosophy.
There is much on the table this year as we vote and determine elections and leadership. Two thoughts from the forum were for equality of contracts, and that for affirmative action purposes, new measures are required. The new measure might be to award government contracts according to the population without reservation.
There are two transformational projects in our midst. The Obama Presidential Library is sure to change the mix on the South Side of Chicago, especially in the areas of construction, business development and real estate.
The second project is the transformation of O’Hare Airport to restore it to be the world’s busiest, most modern, and best; this will probably end up being a trillion-dollar project over a decade. And it comes with promises of no tax dollars being used; it will be funded by the airlines and the concessions businesses.
The question is how will politics play into the transformation? Will minority involvement increase? Will minorities build the airport and participate fully in the build out and the business of the airport? This will become a political issue and the aldermen, the minority aldermen, have the power to make real determinations.
In a very quiet way, the Black community is woke and waking. Now let’s stand.