Magazine article Black Enterprise

Unfinished Business. (Publisher's Page)

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Unfinished Business. (Publisher's Page)

Article excerpt

We have become comfortable with the idea that African Americans have achieved something approaching parity when it comes to political representation in American government. The 38-member Congressional Black Caucus, founded 31 years ago, is an established institution on the American political landscape. And also, over the past three decades, African Americans have distinguished themselves as mayors of hundreds of municipalities, including many of the largest and best-run cities. During the past decade, our increasing, and appropriate, focus on economic advancement has caused some to conclude that the battle for greater political representation is, if not won, then at least no longer a central factor in continuing the empowerment of African Americans.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The task of gaining true political representation and empowerment is unfinished business--and will remain so for as long as the U.S. Senate and the National Governors' Association remain taxpayer-financed, white-only clubs. When L. Douglas Wilder was elected governor of Virginia in 1990, he became the first African American to hold that office in any state. In the eight years since he left, there has not been a second. And there have been only two African Americans elected to the powerful, 100-member Senate since Reconstruction. Edward M. Brooke, a Republican, represented Massachusetts in the Senate from 1967 to 1979, and Democrat Carol Moseley-Braun represented Illinois from 1992 to 1998. In other words, while African Americans constitute more than 12% of the nation's citizens, we have never experienced more than 1% of senatorial representation--and that for a grand total of only 18 years. …

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