July 05, 2018 

By Jeffrey L. Boney 

NNPA Newswire Political Analyst 

 

Politics can be a dirty game.

 

It can oftentimes bring out the worst in people.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.

 

On the flip side, however, politics gives us an opportunity to witness individuals rise above the negative elements usually associated with politics, as well as the other challenges they have endured to help them make their mark in history.

 

Such a feat was witnessed on June 13, as San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed, 43, overcame tremendous adversity and challenges to become the first African American woman to become mayor of San Francisco.

 

 

The historic win by Breed also makes her only the second woman in San Francisco’s history to become mayor and the only female mayor in any of the top 15 most populous cities in the United States. 

 

This is a significant victory for African American female candidates. It also speaks to the power of establishing a broad coalition of voters, including targeting a large percentage of Black voters as a base.

 

While San Francisco has a population of roughly 870,000, it also has one of the smallest percentages of Blacks living there among all of the major U.S. cities—less than 6 percent. 

 

Over 50 percent of the voting electorate came out to vote in this historic election, with a large percentage of Black voters choosing Breed as their candidate for mayor.

 

As a result of her historic win, Breed will now serve out the remainder of the term of Mayor Ed Lee, whose sudden death as a result of a heart attack in December created the need for the June 5th special election. Breed will serve until to 2020, and will undoubtedly run again for a full four-year term.

 

After the general election, which was held on June 6, Breed found herself with a significant first-choice ballot lead over her closest opponents. She led former state Senator Mark Leno, who is White, by nearly 13 points and her colleague on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Jane Kim, who is Asian, by over 12 points.

 

Because San Francisco does not use a traditional voting system, but rather a unique ranked-choice voting system, Breed and her supporters had to wait eight days before finding out the historic results.

 

To get a clearer understanding of what Breed went through to become mayor of San Francisco, you have to better understand the ranked-choice voting system.  Basically, when San Francisco voters cast their ballot they get to rank their top three choices for mayor.  After all the first-choice votes are tallied, whoever comes in last place gets eliminated and that candidate’s supporters get to have their votes transferred to their second choice. Whoever ends up with the majority of votes during this process wins.

 

In Breed’s case, although she would have won easily if this were a traditional voting system, she found herself losing her sizeable lead after election day and having Mark Leno take the lead overnight after the ranked-choice voting results started come in. Things were extremely close, but each day after the election, Breed continued to cut into Leno’s lead.  Breed eventually overtook Leno and continued to widen her lead over him to the point he had no other choice but to concede, which he did on June 13.

 

This was by far the closest and most competitive race the city of San Francisco has had for mayor since 1995. It was then that Willie Brown, the first African American mayor of the city, won his runoff election after coming out of the general election with only roughly 2,000 votes.

 

San Francisco first adopted a ranked-choice voting system in 2002 and has used it since 2004 to elect the mayor, city attorney, Board of Supervisors and five additional citywide offices. To date, a little over 10 cities across the U.S. actually use a ranked-choice voting system. The state of Maine adopted the system in 2016 and first used it in June 2018 for all state and federal primary elections. 

 

The journey to the mayor’s office was not an easy one for Breed, especially after enduring months of political maneuvering by her colleagues on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and other non-Black opponents of hers—many who were fellow Democrats. Many people believed the tactics that were used against Breed were racially-motivated and a calculated effort to keep her from her eventual destiny.

 

Both Leno and Kim were accused of teaming up against Breed, and using questionable tactics to take advantage of San Francisco’s political system of ranked-choice voting in order to keep her out of the mayor’s seat. Both of them held a joint press conference where they strongly encouraged all of their supporters to choose each other as their second choice on the ballot. They also filmed a commercial ad together to encourage their supporters to vote for each other, while shunning the Black female candidate.

 

According to exit polls, more than three out of four Kim voters resonated with their calculated message and chose to select Leno as the second choice on their ballot over Breed.

 

This was not the only questionable move made by Kim and others.

 

After Mayor Lee’s death in December, Breed became acting mayor, but her colleagues on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors felt that allowing her to keep that role would have given her an unfair advantage of being labeled the incumbent once the next mayoral election rolled around. 

 

In a controversial move, Breed’s colleagues on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, including Kim, voted to strip Breed of her duties as interim mayor back in January. Despite public outcry, the Board of Supervisors decided to install Mark Farrell, a White male, as the interim mayor. 

 

Keep in mind that all of the people involved in this decision to remove a fellow Democrat from that role were Democrats themselves—Leno, Kim, and Farrell.  The only difference between Breed and the other Democrats involved is that she is a Black woman. Also keep in mind that it was Kim, who recently sought to become mayor, who was one of the primary individuals leading that charge against Breed.

 

Another important fact as to why this move was controversial is that a decision to retain Breed in her role as interim mayor after the untimely death of a mayor was not an unprecedented one.

 

Current California Senator Dianne Feinstein was appointed to become mayor in 1978 after Mayor George Moscone was assassinated.

 

This lack of overall support of Black candidates, along with the questionable tactics displayed by fellow Democrats, as what Breed experienced, stands out as a longstanding and disturbing trend.

 

Breed has become the latest proof, however, that this exciting new trend of Black women running for office, locally and nationally, serves as a good indicator that a strong Black turnout could signal even greater outcomes for Black women candidates during November’s midterm elections.

 

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade group that represents over 200 Black-owned media companies across the U.S., recognizes the need to increase Black voter turnout and is continuing its steady push encouraging 5 million new, Black voters to register before the midterm elections, with the hopes of ensuring more candidates like Breed cross the finish line victoriously.

 

Amelia Ashley-Ward, who serves as NNPA Foundation Chair and publisher and owner of the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, believes that Black voter turnout was a major factor in helping get Breed elected.

 

“The Black community has always been enthusiastic about London Breed’s candidacy for some time,” said Ashley-Ward. “London was ready and she was qualified, but the way her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors bullied her and chose to push her out of her role as interim mayor truly energized the Black community to get behind her.” 

 

Ashley-Ward states that the Black Press, especially her local newspaper, played a crucial role in helping Breed win and effectively get her message out. 

 

“She was on our front page every week for three months,” said Ashley-Ward. “We ran editorials, educated the entire community about the ranked-choice voting system, shared her platform and encouraged people to become more familiar with who London Breed really was. As a result, more Black people got registered to vote, hosted fundraisers, held rallies and volunteered for her campaign. The Black Press and the Black community did everything possible to make sure London was elected and now she is.”

 

Breed recently acknowledged that she is “appreciative of the support of the Black Press, as well as the relationship with the Black Press both locally and nationally.”

 

Breed came from humble beginnings. 

 

Being raised by her grandmother, Comelia Brown, in the projects of San Francisco, Breed never forgot where she came from. Her grandmother has a lot to do with it. Breed’s grandmother died in 2016 after a long struggle with dementia, but her grandmother’s vision and tenacity to focus on overcoming challenges still sticks with her—as evidenced by this recent quest to become the mayor of San Francisco. 

 

Breed’s grandmother was a housekeeper and taught her to strive to be better and to pursue her education. Breed’s brother went to prison and her younger sister died of a drug overdose in 2006, but that did not stop her from doing exactly what her grandmother encouraged her to do. Breed went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis and then a master’s in public administration from the University of San Francisco. She got her first taste of politics in the mid-1990s, serving as an intern for former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Breed was responsible for answering the mail and writing proclamations, but she had a hunger for more.

 

For more than a decade, Breed served as Executive Director of the African American Art & Culture Complex, with an emphasis on providing critical programs for at-risk youth and senior citizens. 

 

In 2012, Breed decided she wanted to get more involved politically, so she challenged the incumbent member of the Board of Supervisors in her district and won.  She had served in that role since being elected and has been elected by her colleagues as president since 2015.

 

Now, Breed will be sworn in as the 45th mayor of San Francisco on July 11. The road she has traveled can be best summed up by the scripture in the Bible from the book of 2 Corinthians 4:8 that reads, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” 

 

London Breed has shown the world that in spite of tremendous adversity and obstacles, you too can overcome.

 

Jeffrey Boney is a political analyst for the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is an award-winning journalist, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and founder and CEO of the Texas Business Alliance Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.

Category: Opinion

June 21, 2018 

By Julianne Malveaux 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

 

Faith and prayer have been the backbone of the African American community since we came upon these shores. We have counted on our faith leaders (the roll call would include Revs. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, James Walker Hood, Martin Luther King, Jr., Wyatt Tee Walker, Jesse L. Jackson, William Barber, Vashti McKenzie, Barbara Williams Skinner and many others) to articulate the justness of our cause and to mobilize us to work for the justice that is called for in the New Testament, especially in Matthew 25: 35-45. Our ministers are revered leaders who often stand in the face of injustice. We are not surprised, and indeed, encouraged, when their firm stands in the face of oppression lead to collisions with the law. Still, when faith leaders are treated harshly, it forces us to examine the injustice in our system. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” in 1963, he chided White ministers who made a public statement about his methods, suggesting that segregation should be fought in the courts, not in the streets.  His letter moved the White faith community to confront some of the injustices of segregation and to form alliances with the Civil Rights movement.

 

King spent eleven days in the Birmingham jail in extremely harsh conditions. However, the oppressor does not learn from its excesses. On June 12, nine faith leaders were shackled and held for 27 hours after being arrested for praying at the Supreme Court. The multicultural group of men and women are part of Rev. William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign ( A National Call for Moral Revival). Their effort is to bring attention to the amazing inequality and moral bankruptcy of our nation. Their prayers at the Supreme Court were extremely timely given the court’s recent actions to make it more difficult for people to vote in Ohio, and given the injustices, this court continues to perpetuate.

 

Like Dr. King, the nine who were arrested—Poor People’s Campaign co-chair the Rev. Liz Theoharis, D.C. clergy the Revs. Jimmie Hawkins, Graylan Hagler and William Lamar IV, and the Revs. Rob and Hershey Stephens from the Fort Washington Collegiate Church in New York City)—were subjected to extremely harsh conditions. No threat to anyone, they were shackled, placed in handcuffs and leg irons, confined to roach-infested cells with nothing to rest their heads on, but a metal slab. This is the 21st century, but you wouldn’t know it by the way these clergies were treated. Yet, their actions and those of the Poor People’s Campaign are writing the contemporary letter from the Birmingham jail. Their brief incarceration, in the name of justice, is part of a larger movement to bring attention to increasing poverty and injustice, even in the face of economic expansion. Like Dr. King’s Poor People’s campaign, this 21st century Poor People’s Campaign, launched fifty years later, is an attack on poverty, racism, and militarism, and also ecological devastation and our nation’s “moral devastation.”

 

At the 2018 Rainbow PUSH International convention on June 15, Rev. Barber railed against interlocking injustices that did not begin with our 45th President, but have been exacerbated by the depravity he represents. In a rousing address that wove humor, statistics, public analysis and a scathing attack on our nation’s immorality, Barber argued that “the rejected,” which may comprise more than half of our nation, will lead to the revival of our nation.

 

Who would have thought that nine faith leaders would be among the rejected? Who would have thought that Dr. King would have been? But Dr. King eagerly embraced the status of “rejected.” He once preached, “I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity.” Rev. Liz Theoharis told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that the conditions she and fellow clergy experienced, while uncomfortable, were the same conditions poor inmates experienced. That’s the power, in some ways, of the Poor People’s Campaign. Clergy and others are forcing the issue, lifting their voices, making connections, claiming the discomfort and pain of the rejected, embracing the fact that they, too, are among the rejected.

 

To shackle clergy simply for praying is to exhibit a peculiar form of cruelty and inhumanity. Shackling is reminiscent of enslavement; shackling is a method of humiliation; shackling is an attempt to use the harsh lash of unjust law on the backs of those who pray for just law. Rev. William Lamar IV, who has been arrested on three consecutive Mondays for protest action said that the June 12 arrests and treatment were the harshest, he has yet experienced. In Washington, D.C., people who are arrested for protesting are usually given a ticket that requires a court appearance and a likely fine.  What did the shackling say about the hallowed sacredness of the “Supreme” Court?

 

Shackling clergy for praying is like condemning the Sun for shining. Unjust law enforcement can shackle arms and legs, but not movements.  Harsh treatment of leaders in the Poor People’s Champaign only strengthens resistance against injustice, racism, poverty, and ecological devastation.

 

Julianne Malveaux is an author, economist and founder of Economic Education. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available to order at Amazon.com and at www.juliannemalveaux.com. Follow Dr. Malveaux on Twitter @drjlastword.

Category: Opinion

June 21, 2018 

By Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) 

 

Black mothers are dying and it’s time to do something about it.

 

Every year, more than 700 American mothers lose their lives to pregnancy or birth-related complications. Some medical professionals estimate that at least half, if not more, of these deaths are entirely preventable.

 

While the deaths of 700-plus American mothers should shock us all, the statistics are much worse for African American mothers. We are three-to-four times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than our White counterparts. A 2010-2011 survey of maternal deaths in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of those deaths were Black mothers.

 

These shocking statistics cut across class, education level, and socio-economic status. Earlier this year, Serena Williams shared her own story of nearly losing her life.

 

She, like too many other women, was ignored when she raised concerns about her own health and body. If this tragedy can befall a wealthy, world-class athlete who’s deeply in tuned with her own body, it could, and does, happen to anyone.

 

Sadly, the situation is getting worse, not better. American mothers are dying at higher rates every year.

 

Globally, we’ve had real success in pushing down the rates of mothers needlessly dying, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. Yet at the same time, the U.S. is one of a handful of nations where the number of mothers dying is increasing.

 

We can and must do better. All mamas deserve the chance to be mamas.

 

That’s why I’ve introduced the “Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act” or the MOMMA Act, for short. This comprehensive legislation takes a multi-pronged approach to ending maternal mortality through in­creased access to care, expanded culturally-competent training and standardized data collection.

 

Currently, one of our greatest challenges in addressing the rising rate of maternal mortality is a lack of good data. We need to standardize data to find trends and protocols that work to save lives.

 

The MOMMA Act also establishes and enforces national emergency obstetric protocols and ensures the sharing of best practices between practitioners and hospital systems because, if it’s working, we want every doctor to know about it.

 

Additionally, the MOMMA Act would expand access to care by ensuring that mothers retain their Medicaid coverage for one year after giving birth, the entire postpartum period. Right now, mothers lose their coverage just two months after giving birth.

 

However, many women face significant health challenges, often weeks and months, after giving birth. One mom who spoke at my press conference unveiling the bill suffered a childbirth-related stroke 20 days after giving birth. Furthermore, we know that postpartum depression and other health challenges face new mothers; expanding access to care will ensure that moms remain healthy as they raise their families.

 

Finally, the MOMMA Act would improve access to culturally-competent care throughout the care continuum. For decades, we’ve known that culturally-incompetent care has had massive and negative impacts on our community and our health. In 2018, it’s time to train health professionals to give appropriate care to all patients, regardless of their race.

 

I could not be prouder to have introduced the MOMMA Act or to have worked with the amazing women and men who helped us craft this important legislation to save mothers’ lives.

 

It’s the product of months of work with families, mothers, doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas and policy advocates. I’m deeply humbled to have the support of Black Women’s Health Imperative, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the National Urban League, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and many others.

 

As a mother, I was lucky enough to experience two happy, healthy pregnancies. I want the same thing for every mother and family: a healthy, happy pregnancy and child.

 

Congresswoman Robin Kelly represents Illinois’ Second Con­gressional District. She is the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. She also serves on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Follow Congresswoman Kelly on Twitter @RepRobinKelly.

Category: Opinion

June 21, 2018 

By Derrick Johnson 

President and CEO of the NAACP 

 

Recently, the NAACP, alongside members of the Congressional Black Caucus, gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill to demand a halt of the Trump administration’s continued attempts to force Thomas Farr—a known racist with ties to the late segregationist Senator Jesse Helms—into the federal judgeship of North Carolina.

 

Located in eastern North Carolina, this federal district under this judgeship has one of the highest densities of African American voters than any other part of the state, making Farr one of the worst possible candidates that could be considered. Sadly, instead of representing an anomaly, Farr instead represents the archetype for federal judge nominees put forth by the Trump Administration. Whether it’s nominees that refuse to publicly support the Brown v. Board decision that desegregated our public schools or individuals with ties to known racist organizations, what we are seeing are people whose attitudes reflect norms more associated with the era of Jim Crow than our time.

 

It cannot be ignored that Trump’s White House is engaged in none other than a war against civil rights. Though this is a battle we had hoped to have ended by now, it is not a fight we are afraid of nor is it one we will lose. We have waged war against the foes of civil rights for over 109 years. We fought hard against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General and we will continue to fight against Trump’s nearly all-white and mostly male federal judge nominees. Mr. Sessions’ redirection of the Department of Justice (DOJ) away from its civil rights commitment under the Obama Administration to an agency that condones police brutality and other racially based injustices is hardly surprising. We knew he would push the DOJ to withdraw its support for our legal cases against voter suppression and he did. The simple point is that these moves against civil rights cannot be divorced from his boss—President Trump.

 

Over the past few months, the NAACP has sued the Trump administration on its failure to properly prepare for Census2020. This failure to prepare for the Census means that communities of color, including wealthy communities like Prince Georges County, Maryland, our partner in the lawsuit, will likely be once again undercounted. When this happens, our communities lose out on political representation, federal dollars, and resources that are rightfully ours. We’ve also taken the fight to this administration on the decision by Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education to basically throw civil rights under the bus and arbitrarily determine that the department no longer has to investigate complaints of discrimination in our schools. We are also committed to ensuring that DeVos plans for privatization, plans that would destroy our public-school system, never come to completion.

 

There is a direct correlation between the racism emanating from the White House and the expansion of attacks on the humanity of persons of color. This is clear not only from Trump’s poisonous rhetoric that disparages people, cultures, and nations, but also in the policies that emanate from his office.

 

The infection of blatant racist speech and behavior began the day after Trump was elected and it has continued to spread, giving inspiration to closet bigots and encouraging implicit and explicit racial biases that pervade from the golf course to the coffee shop and every space in between.

 

During our 109th Annual Convention July 14-18 in San Antonio, Texas, the NAACP will bring together some of our nation’s most brilliant minds, activists, and legislators, as well as powerful voices from the hip-hop community to map out the agenda for moving forward. Our goal is to unite our voices into a powerful symphony that resonates with communities of color and inspires them to join us in standing against government-sponsored hate. This year’s theme is simply “Defeat Hate—Vote.”

 

We’ve extended an invitation to President Trump to attend our convention and once again he has declined. His refusal to address the nation’s premier civil rights organization and its hundreds of thousands of advocates is, by default, a refusal to speak to the entirety of the Black Community. Regardless, we remain “unshook” and “woke,” in terms of the challenges we face and must overcome in this administration and we’re up for the fight.

 

All we ask of you is to join us to “Make Democracy Work.” Pledge to vote by texting NAACP to 40649.

 

Derrick Johnson is the President and CEO of the NAACP. Follow him and the NAACP on Twitter at @DerrickNAACP and @NAACP.

Category: Opinion

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