A community gathering of concerned Black citizens and activists finally approved a California Black political agenda November 20th at the Vision Theater in Leimert Park.
Sponsored and hosted by the California Black Think Tank and firmly supported by Our Weekly and KJLH’s Front Page, the meeting generated a document that will be printed, published and disseminated to the Black community within the next few weeks, along with a 2011 edition of The Directory of Black Elected Officials. They both will be available at Eso Won Book Store, Zahra’s Book Store and Lucy Florence, among other places. The exact date of their availability will be announced on radio, the Internet and in Our Weekly.
Why a Black Political Agenda? Again, as stated earlier, for those who have been paying attention, it is clear that the Black American community in Los Angeles and in California is becoming increasingly marginalized and disregarded in political decision-making. Votes from Black citizens are consistently solicited, but most frequently, the Black voters themselves are taken for granted, ignored and disrespected in terms of getting much benefit for giving those votes. The interests of the Black community stay in the hands of representatives, who too often refuse to acknowledge their obligation to handle those interests positively; refuse to be held accountable; and refuse to “listen” to the diverse voices within the community for assistance and consideration.
In politics, groups must advocate, articulate and defend their interests, if they intend to be paid attention to and be influential, when public policy and action decisions are made. Scattered, disparate voices which do not demonstrate the ability to coalesce and punish, hold representatives’ feet to the fire, or make coherent, viable political demands, become collateral damage politically.
So, why a Black political agenda now, here, and for the future? It is to craft a roadmap of objectives, strategies and tactics that will restore, retain and maintain a Black political presence and participation in California politics that will have leverage and clout. Black folks have earned the right to fully participate, and so they should take charge of how that involvement will occur, when, and for whom or what. To get to and hold on to a “higher ground” political base, we must chart our own meaningful path and follow it to fruition.
The new agenda includes an evaluative method for elected representatives, questions to ask to determine which propositions/initiatives to choose, and generic questions to ask candidates for office, along with five major areas of objective topics to focus on to make sure we are collectively working to benefit our own community.
The community group that discussed, debated and approved this agenda also decided to make itself “permanent” to signify its seriousness regarding Black political credibility, and to signal the birth of a new movement in California Black politics. The name is the Council of Black Political Organizations (COBPO). It will be run by a five-person executive council, and it will have at least 10 standing committees to implement and follow through on tasks, projects, mobilizations, legislative advocacies and increasing the political literacy of the California Black community.
The Greater Los Angeles area community should pat itself on the back for taking this bold new step, and creating the just-minted COBPO. Thanks former U.S. Congressman Mervyn Dymally for his advice and support in this endeavor, along with Dr. BJ Hawkins, former City Councilman Robert Farrell, Inglewood Mayor Danny Tabor, and a host of other talented citizens within our midst. It was a skilled, experienced and committed bunch who met for more than 15 hours in three long sessions at the Vision Theater, and they did the Black community proud.
Forward ever, Backwards never. Now, let’s get to work.
The California Black Think can be accessed at www.californiablackthinktank.com.
Professor David L. Horne, is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or Non Governmental Organization (NGO). It is the step-parent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.