Young Black Democrats, Eager to Lead From the Left, Eye Runs for Office in 2018

Representative Stacey Abrams, 43, a likely Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia in 2018, at the State Capitol in Atlanta. (Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times)

by Alexander Burns via nytimes.com

MACON, Ga. — In Georgia, a Democratic lawmaker planning a run for governor promises to confront President Trump and what she calls the “fascists” surrounding him. In Maryland, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P. warns national Democrats not to take African-Americans for granted.

The mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., goes even further, declaring that Democrats have failed by fixating on centrist voters.In states from Massachusetts to Florida, a phalanx of young black leaders in the Democratic Party is striding into some of the biggest elections of 2018, staking early claims on governorships and channeling the outcry of rank-and-file Democrats who favor all-out battle with Mr. Trump and increasingly question his legitimacy as president.

By moving swiftly into the most contentious midterm races, these candidates aim to cement their party in forceful opposition to Mr. Trump and to align it unswervingly with minority communities and young people. Rather than muting their differences with the Republican Party in order to compete in states Mr. Trump won, like Georgia and Florida, they aim to make those distinctions starker. And, these Democrats say, they are willing to defy the conventional strategic thinking of the national party establishment, which has tended to recruit moderate, white candidates for difficult races and largely failed to help blacks advance to high office under President Barack Obama.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and a likely candidate for governor, said Democrats would win by confronting a president who was viewed with fear and hostility by the party’s base. Rather than pivoting to the center, Ms. Abrams, 43, said Democrats should redouble their focus on registering and energizing blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, as well as young and low-income voters, who often decline to participate in politics.“There is a hunger for representation,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview. “There is a desire to make certain the state starts to serve everyone.”

At a “Macon Resists” town hall event in central Georgia last month, Ms. Abrams appealed to an auditorium of anxious Democrats with just that approach. The state, she said, is speeding toward a political crossroads, with Republicans “terrified of the evolving nature of our state.”“We can either move forward or we can let the president, and those fascists that surround him, pull us backwards,” she said. “I plan to go forward.”

Ms. Abrams, who filed paperwork this month to explore a run for governor, spent much of the event explaining the wrangling of the Georgia legislature in cool, pragmatic terms. But in the interview, she was adamant that Democrats could not “fake a conservative bent” in order to win the next election in her state, which voted for Mr. Trump by about six percentage points.“A Democrat wins an election in Georgia by speaking truth to power,” she said.In other states, black Democratic leaders have been just as pointed in their calls for the party to try something new.

Benjamin T. Jealous, a former president of the N.A.A.C.P., is exploring a campaign for governor of Maryland while warning the national party that minority voters could stay home if they are not inspired. Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and a declared candidate for governor of Florida, said Democrats had repeatedly erred by failing to “lean into our base” and by chasing votes nearer to the center instead.

These candidates have brandished data indicating that black turnout slumped in 2016, the first presidential election in a dozen years without Mr. Obama on the ballot: The Census Bureau found that black turnout last year dropped sharply from 2012.

The field of states where youthful black Democrats are competing in 2018 is likely to expand: In Massachusetts, Setti Warren, the 46-year-old mayor of Newton, is gearing up for a race against Gov. Charlie Baker, a hugely popular Republican. African-American candidates are more tentatively considering statewide races in Illinois, Nevada and Ohio. And in Virginia’s off-year elections, Justin Fairfax, a 38-year-old former prosecutor, is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

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Cornell William Brooks Named New NAACP President And CEO

Cornell William Brooks

Roslyn Brock, right, chairman of the national board of directors for the NAACP, puts a NAACP pin on new national president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks on Saturday, May 17, 2014, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The selection of Brooks came as the United States marked the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which outlawed segregation in public schools. The lawsuit was argued by the organization’s legal arm. (AP Photo/NAACP, J. Adams)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a Head Start and Yale Law School graduate, Cornell William Brooks calls himself a direct beneficiary of Brown v. Board Education.  Now the lawyer and activist is taking over as the next national president and CEO of the NAACP, whose legal arm brought that landmark legal case challenging segregation in public schools.

On the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision that said separating black and white children was unconstitutional, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization announced Brooks’ selection.  The NAACP’s board made the final decision Friday night, and chair Roslyn Brock told The Associated Press about Brooks’ new position on Saturday morning.  Brooks will be formally presented to the Baltimore-based organization’s members at its national convention in Las Vegas in July.

“I am a beneficiary, an heir and a grandson, if you will, of Brown versus Board of Education,” Brooks told the AP.
“My life is the direct product, if you will, of the legacy of the blood, sweat and tears of the NAACP and so today I’m particularly mindful that the NAACP has made America what it is, and certainly made my life possible and we are all grateful heirs of that legacy.”

Brooks, 53, of Annandale, New Jersey, will become the NAACP’s 18th national president, replacing interim leader Lorraine Miller. Miller has served in that position since Benjamin Jealous ended his five-year tenure last year.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to lead this powerful historic organization,” Brooks said in an interview. “In our fight to ensure voting rights, economic equality, health equity, and ending racial discrimination for all people, there is indeed much work to be done.”

Brooks, a minister, is originally from Georgetown, South Carolina. He currently is president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a Newark, New Jersey-based urban research and advocacy organization.  He graduated from Jackson State University, received a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology and got his law degree from Yale.

Brooks has worked as a lawyer for the Federal Communication Commission and the Justice Department. He also ran for Congress as a Democrat in Virginia in 1998. He still owns a home in Woodbridge, Virginia.
“Mr. Brooks is a pioneering lawyer and civil rights leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the association,” Brock said. “We look forward to leveraging his legal prowess, vision and leadership as we tackle the pressing civil rights issues of the 21st century.”

The organization had hired The Hollins Group Inc., of Chicago to lead its search for a new CEO, and Brooks was selected from more than 450 applications, Brock said. The organization held more than 30 interviews, she said.
Brooks said he would start talking to and listening to the NAACP’s membership to plan for the organization’s future.
He said he would present his vision for the NAACP at the organization’s convention after he’s held conversations with the members.

“As long as America continues to be a great, but imperfect nation, there will be a need for the NAACP,” Brooks said.
Jealous called Brooks’ selection “the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for the NAACP.”

article via newsone.com

Magic Johnson’s ASPiRE TV Network To Debut Original Series

The Root 100, an original series for Magic Johnson’s ASPiRE network, is a weekly show that will highlight the most influential black leaders under 45, selected by online news outlet, The Root. These honorees featured on the program appeared on this year’s Root 100 list. They include MSNBC journalist Melissa Harris-Perry, actress Gabrielle Union, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, Sundance award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, among others. Journalist and Anchor Suzanne Malveaux hosts the new show, which will premier December 5.

There will be eight episodes in the series. Each one-hour episode focuses on three honorees discussing intimate moments, turning points in their lives, and their aspirations to affect change.

“THE ROOT 100 presents a fascinating look at two dozen diverse and extraordinary African-Americans, who are using their voices and platforms to fundamentally change our community and our world for the better,” said ASPiRE General Manager Paul Butler in a press release.

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