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Mid-Terms Elect New African American Members of Congress

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(NNPA) As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, While centrist Democrats bore the brunt of the mid-term election losses, members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses won 56 of 60 re-election bids. The more than 40 returning African American members of Congress and at least five new ones are coming to Washington fired up and determined to beat back the coming attacks on the progressive agenda the country voted for in 2008.

As a result of the elections, seven new African Americans will be sworn-in as new House members on January 5th.

These include two Tea Party endorsed Black Republicans -- Tim Scott, of South Carolina, and Allen West, of Florida, -- and the first Black woman ever to represent the state of Alabama , Terri Sewell.

A native of Selma , Terri Sewell, DAL, comes from a politically active family that placed a strong emphasis on education.

Her mother was the first African American woman elected to the Selma City Council. Sewell is a graduate of both Princeton and Harvard Law School and currently works as a public interest lawyer in Birmingham. High on her legislative priorities list is job creation, health care, and help for Black farmers.

Karen Bass, D-CA, of Los Angeles is the nation’s first Black woman State Assembly Speaker. She will represent California ’s 33rd Congressional District in the U.S. Congress. Congresswoman-elect Bass is a graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills and the University of California School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. She credits having led the California state assembly during the state’s historic fiscal crisis for giving her a grassroots understanding of what it will take to cure the nation’s economic woes.

Hansen Clarke, D-MI, of Detroit, assumes the House seat occupied by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick for the past 14 years. A graduate of Cornell University , Clarke formerly served as a member of the Michigan House and State Senate. He brings years of legislative experience and a track record of bi-partisan accomplishment to his new role. He says that helping the people of Detroit navigate the often confusing labyrinth of federal benefits and services available to them will be a major focus in Congress. Cedric Richmond, D-LA, won a landslide victory over one-term Louisiana Congressman Anh Joseph Cao.

A lifelong resident of New Orleans, Richmond is a graduate of Morehouse College , Tulane Law School , and the Harvard University executive program.

He has served as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives since 2000 and created a new markets tax credit, which has steered more than $250 million in investment to the State’s hurricane ravaged areas.

With a personality as bold as her big, stylish Stetsons, Frederica Wilson, D-FL, will be occupying the House seat previously held by Florida ’s Kendrick Meeks. Congresswoman-elect Wilson is a former teacher, principal, and school board member who vows to carry her fight for resource equity to halls of Congress.

All of these new African American members bring fresh ideas and energy to the United States Congress.

For the sake of our nation and our communities, here’s hoping they make the right kind of difference.

Marc H. Morial is President and CEO of the National Urban League.

Rep. Baca's Statement on the Claims Resolution Act of 2010

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Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) spoke on the floor of the House of Representative today in support of H.R. 4783, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. The legislation provides funding to settle the Pigford discrimination lawsuit, brought by African American farmers against the USDA. The bill also includes funds to settle the Cobell case, brought by Native American communities whose trust accounts were mishandled by the federal government, and resolutions to water rights claims for other Native tribes.

H.R. 4783 passed the House by a 256 - 152 vote, and a copy of Rep. Baca’s statements to his colleagues on the House floor follows:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my strong support for H.R. 4783, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.”

“I want to thank Congressional leadership and the White House for their commitment to ensure justice for those individuals and communities we have wronged in the past. The treatment of minority farmers by the USDA remains a dark stain on our nation’s history.”

“When I first came to Congress, I worked extensively in the Agriculture Committee with my former colleague, Rep. Eva Clayton, to bring justice to African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Female farmers. We hosted several meetings, wrote letters, and chaired numerous Subcommittee hearings on this very issue to address past discrimination.”

“Today, I am pleased to say we are taking an important step forward in righting the past wrongs and injustices carried out by this country. H.R. 4783 provides the additional funding required to settle the Pigford lawsuit, brought by African American farmers. It also includes funds to settle the Cobell case, and finally provide justice to Native Americans communities whose trust accounts were mishandled by the Government.”

“Thousands of people have been affected, and still bear the wounds of the past discriminations. Their wait for justice has been too long.”

“The legislation also includes important measures to settle water rights claims for many Tribes, including: the White Mountain Apache, the Crow Montana, the Navajo Nation, the Taos Pueblo, and other Southwestern Pueblo tribes.”

“We still have a long road ahead before we can bring justice to all groups discriminated by the USDA, including Hispanic farmers and female farmers, but we are moving in the right direction.”

“I urge my colleagues to do the right thing, and vote yes on H.R. 4783. I yield back the balance of my time.”

Beyond the Rhetoric: 2 Is Now Greater Than 42

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(NNPA) The title sounds like fuzzy math but it is not. It is the reality that we have on Capitol Hill after the past elections. We now have no Black senators thanks to the shenanigans of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic National Committee’s anemic support for any Black stepping up for a senate slot. They don’t want that to happen because the last time it happened it turned the party upside down and we evolved to our first Black President. Believe me they do not want to repeat that unforeseen phenomenon. The fact is they are making moves to lessen the 42 Black congresspersons representing the Democratic Party. On the other hand, the Republican National Committee is touting their two newly elected Black congressmen. The Dems are pushing their Black congresspersons into a subservient role as the Repubs are bringing their two new victors to the front of the line and saying “go for it!”

How they treated House Majority Whip James Clyburn is just totally indignant and insulting to a human being of great character. Massa Pelosi (Nancy Pelosi) came in and fired him as Whip and replaced him with White Steny Hoyer as if the big loss they experienced at the polls was Congressman Clyburn’s fault. In a fair world, Ms. Pelosi would be stepping down from her leadership role as she “sunk” the ship she was guiding. You don’t blame it on others. A true leader would have fallen on his/her sword and passed the gauntlet on to the next in line. But, no they blamed it on the Black man and to everyone’s disappointment he, the Black man, took it with a smile.

And, so it is going on right now on Capitol Hill. Black congressional persons of the Congressional Black Caucus are catching hell from their White masters and to the disappointment of their constituents – Black victims of terrible policy. Yes, their districts are becoming poorer and they don’t have a clue what to do. Just in case they might start thinking about that, the democratic White elite are giving them serious problems so that their concentration is destroyed.

Pelosi and her minions are using the Ethics Committee to knock off senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus. It is as if no Whites are capable of ethics violations. They have a new hit list and it is all Black! Charles Rangel was paraded on television last week and humiliated to no end. Oh yes, there are more coming. Maxine Waters, Jesse Jackson Jr., Alcee Hastings are among a few and the intent is to knock them down a notch or two. They will lose key committee positions and will be terribly damaged public relations wise for future elections. They are attacking the seniority of Congressman Ed Towns on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and are trying to block the Honorable Bobby Rush as Ranking Member of the Telecommunications Committee. Every day a new assault forms against the CBC for the purpose of lessening Black political power. The super liberals, unionists, socialists, and Marxists are all moving in the same direction and that direction is against every Black Democratic member of Congress.

As the Republicans are preparing to take over the management of the House of Representatives, they are touting their two new Black members as natural leaders and giving them great expectations. Fortunately, these two brothers, Tim Scott (South Carolina) and Allen West ( Florida ) are strong and proud of their Blackness. Their doors are going to be open for Black advocates to come and seek advice or bring ideas to them. They won’t have to check with the union goons, socialists on George Soros’s payroll and super government freaks. They will represent their districts and become the conscience of Black business and entrepreneurship. These two new members will quickly have more clout in the power circles and exude positive influence than all of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus collectively. The CBC is beaten down and is on the “run”. These two brothers answer to God only and will not be humiliated or shamed into servitude. They are true leaders.

Watch as the drama on Capitol Hill unfolds. The names Scott and West will represent the leadership of Black America and will guide the future of our children and our neighborhoods. They are not going to play the poverty game and be beholden to those who mean us no good – unions, socialists, Marxists, etc. They represent the people and have just gone through some of the meanest dirty campaign tricks the DNC could deliver. Still, they rose and are now in place to exhibit the leadership skills they have learned during the past decades. These two will do more for us than the other 42 together. Thank God for the progress.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc (r). Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Minorities Have Even More At Stake!

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By Tunua Thrash and Michelle Romero –

California has not even had a chance to fully implement 2008's Proposition 11, which called for the formation of a Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw state legislative districts, and already voters have given the commission more power. With this November's passage of Proposition 20, the commission will now be charged with drawing congressional districts as well.

This happened despite the fact that the commission's members hadn't even been chosen yet. As mandated by Prop. 11, the California Bureau of State Audits is in the middle of selecting 14 ordinary Californians to serve on the state's inaugural Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The thousands of original applicants were narrowed to 36 finalists, from whom eight commissioners were chosen by lottery Nov. 18. Before the end of the year, these eight members will select six more from the remaining pool of finalists.

Originally charged with drawing and adopting redistricting maps for state Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization seats only, the commission's newly expanded role makes it even more vital that minority communities stay involved in this process.

For more than a year, The Greenlining Institute, in collaboration with other groups that focus on good government and the rights of communities of color, has monitored the selection of the commission members. The good news is that the first eight chosen show potential to reflect our state's ethnic diversity, but so far there is only one African American and one Latina. Geographically, large parts of the state, including Orange and San Diego Counties, the city of Los Angeles and most of the Central Valley, have no representation so far.

The just-picked commissioners should address these gaps when they choose the final six members, and the final makeup of this unelected and arguably unaccountable body is yet to be seen. The real question is, will they draw fair lines for the diverse communities of California?

As the most populous state in the union, California has the largest delegation in the U.S. Congress; whether or not it will grow even more powerful will be determined by the Census 2010 count. It also currently has one of the most diverse delegations. The Citizens Redistricting Commission stands to be a powerful force in determining the outcome of California elections for the next ten years.

Redistricting, a seemingly obscure topic previously understood and known by an elite few, is now squarely in the hands of the California citizens. The governor, state legislators and congressional representatives will have no authority in the redistricting process. And it's important: The lines dividing congressional and legislative districts decide who represents us and whether our communities have a real voice in government.

Voters have made their position clear: We don't trust Sacramento politicians and would rather the work of redistricting be done by 14 fellow Californians, even if we don't know who they are yet.

Voters' distrust of Sacramento was further underscored by the vote on Proposition 27, the ballot initiative to eliminate the commission. Prop. 27 would have returned redistricting authority to the state legislature, but it was rejected overwhelmingly by voters, who were highly skeptical bof its lead backers - California congressional and state elected officials. The results offer another reminder to officials that the public expects and wants more from our democracy: a chance to participate in turning our state around for the better.

While we at Greenlining were not convinced that the redistricting commission was ready for the additional responsibility of drawing congressional districts, we agree with California voters that now is the time to embrace government reform.

Having given the commission so much power, we need to make it work for all of our communities. We need you to join us as we advocate for greater community engagement in the political process and for increased transparency in how redistricting bdecisions are made.

Never before in our state's history has there been this sort of chance for ordinary Californians to shape the outcome of elections.

We will be working with communities around the state to make our voices heard as the Citizens Redistricting Commission does its work. Please join us at www.greenlining.org/initiatives/ourdemocracy.

Tunua Thrash is Director of Innovation and Michelle Romero is Redistricting Fellow at The Greenlining Institute, www.greenlining.org.


DNC Abandons Black Voters and Losses the House

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(NNPA) At the funeral of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Ronald Brown, President Bill Clinton made an announcement stunning to some but obvious to us. And, that was had it not been for the Black vote, he would not have been elected president in l992 and re-elected in l996.

In the recent critically important mid-term elections, officials of the Democratic National Committee either ignored this political fact or simply took the Black vote for granted. The results were a disaster for Democratic house members.

Why did the Democratic National Committee fail to mobilize and maximize the Black vote in the mid-term elections? This is a salient question because it is, or should be, obvious that in a close election the turnout of Black voters will be the difference between victory and defeat.

One answer to this question is the fact that the Democratic National Committee invests the bulk of its resources in reaching out to voters it was unlikely to get and didn’t get while largely ignoring the most loyal and traditional base of the party, Black voters.

It’s not as if another path wasn’t suggested. I personally, on behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America) and our more than 200 Black publishers nationally, produced proposals for aggressively reaching the Black voter nationally. However, despite my discussions with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, he and his DNC trusted minions turned their backs on us (the NNPA) and Black voters.

The only support we could count on was DNC Political Director, Clyde Williams, who respected and understood the value of the NNPA advertising campaign, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and other advocates such as Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Barbara Lee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Whip James Clyburn, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and National Urban League President Marc Morial.

However, the DNC staff followed their own ways---a little here, a little there, but not enough to make a significant difference and far too late.

Teaching voters is a complicated exercise in this digital age, with the need to reach people everywhere they consume media. As the saying goes, all politics is local. And the fact is, on the grassroots level the people most likely to vote are those who use and trust the media that responds to the needs of their community on an ongoing basis---the Black Press (NNPA).

Particularly for candidates at the state and local level, support of the community and its businesses send a tangible message to voters that the candidate is willing to invest resources in the communities they hope to represent. The candidate needs to ask for our vote but in order to make that point effectively, the outreach must come early and often, with backup resources.

Without question, President Obama has the right vision and the best plan to move America forward, but the Democratic National Committee must do better in helping him get his message out to the people, particularly Black people, to ensure that we are inspired to vote. The DNC must also value our vote. I believe, in reality, the Democratic “shellacking” could have been avoided. The Obama Administration, in a very short time, has had enormous successes---health care reform, the extension of unemployment benefits, and more---that touch lives in a substantial way. But who would know a story that hasn’t been effectively communicated.

Democrats can’t expect to win if the message of former President Bill Clinton doesn’t ring clearly in their ears and brain. They also can’t expect to win if they don’t or won’t go into the Black community and ask Black people for their vote.

When you look at the election, where Democrats advertised, went into the Black community, campaigned and asked for our vote, we won. The two best examples of this fact are California and Massachusetts however; there are a host of other critical states where candidates did not advertise, go into the Black community or ask the Black voters to come out and vote, and they lost. Democrats can’t expect to win, if at the end of the day the verdict for Black Voters is ignoring them or taking them for granted. The strategy of “too little, too late” is not a viable and winning strategy.

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. is Chairman of the NNPA and Executive Publisher of The Los Angeles Sentinel.

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