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Mid-term Election Looms Large at Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon by Barrington M. Salmon

April 1, 2018

Mid-term Election Looms Large at Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon
 Donna Brazile: This is a political year we haven't seen in a lifetime
By Barrington M. Salmon

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Donna Brazile galvanizing crowd at 8th annual Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

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Donna Brazile predicts defeat for Republican Congress in November. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

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Nearly 250 attended the Trice Edney News Wire Stateswomen for Justice luncheon at the National Press Club. It was themed, "'No Ways Tired': Galvanizing Our Power for Progress". PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

(TriceEdneyWire.com) - Seven months before the 2018 midterm elections, Donna Brazile told a luncheon crowd of several hundred people that she’s on a mission to galvanize African-American votes to ensure that the prospective “blue wave” becomes reality.

The veteran Democratic Party operative and keynote speaker at Trice Edney News Wire’s Stateswomen for Justice luncheon told the gathering at the National Press Club Ballroom that everything is aligning perfectly and politically for African-Americans to be a force that drives Republicans out of office in November.

But Brazile, who has been involved in politics since she was 9, cautioned against complacency.

“There are some of you who worry about what Donald Trump is doing. I told you that a storm is brewing,” said Brazile, two-time chair of the Democratic National Committee and author of the New York Times bestselling book, ‘Hacked: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.’

Brazile predicted, “By the end of the day on Nov. 6, Donald Trump will see the results of people coming out to vote despite the voter suppression, intimidation and them forcing people off the voter rolls…This is a political year we haven’t seen in a lifetime,” she said. “Our power is enormous. I’ve seen it in every aspect of life … Get ready, get ready. That’s the strength. We can turn anything we want black, red, blue, any color.”

Yet, despite the formidable political power that African Americans possess, it isn’t and hasn’t been used to its full potential, said Brazile, who has been involved in 56 Congressional House and Senate races, served seven years as a campaigner staffer and worked as a strategist and analyst in 11 campaigns. Rather than coming to political parties and politicians hat-in-hand begging for a seat at the table, she said, Africans should be asserting their power and demanding that politicians deal with them in a manner that reflects their political clout.

“We need to tell them we’re loaning you our votes today, but we will take them back when we run,” she said. “They don’t respect you, they don’t want your body, so don’t give them your votes until they give us an agenda that matches our needs.”

Brazile touched on the 2018 midterms, related election issues, women’s empowerment, economic equality and voter registration. She also focused on the explosion of black women who’re running for office seeking governorships and seats in Congress, state legislatures and elsewhere across the political landscape. Much of this nascent black female political activism has been fueled by opposition to the Trump administration’s open hostility to black people, disapproval of his divisive anti-Black and anti-woman policies, and an intense desire for change.

Brazile shared data that shows 573 Black women candidates are running for office this year. Ninety-eight are running for federal positions, including judgeships, judicial slots and the US Senate, 200 are vying for state seats and 249 are running locally. Overall, 240 Black women are competing in blue states, while 333 have put themselves forward in red states. Of this total, 209 are incumbents seeking re-election and 364 are challengers.

Historically, the party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in Congress during midterms. Already so far in Trump’s first year, Republicans have lost 41 contests, including surprise Democratic wins in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Alabama and drubbings in Virginia and New Jersey. All of this points to a Democratic tsunami in November.

In the luncheon’s eighth year, the theme was ‘No Ways Tired’: Galvanizing Our Power for Progress. Created and organized by noted journalist Hazel Trice Edney, the event – held as Women’s History Month ends – honors Black women in the Black Press, arts, politics, education and a range of different spheres. This year’s distinguished group of panelists was comprised of Dr. Maya Rockeymore Cummings, who moderated the spirited discussion; economist and educator Dr. Julianne Malveaux; Lois Johnson, founder and CEO of United Security Finance Corp; activist and Women’s March Co-Chair Tamika D. Mallory; and civil rights attorney Barbara Arnwine.

“Eight years later, we’re no ways tired,” Trice Edney declared. “Three hundred years after we hit these shores, and 50 years after the King assassination, we’re here. I’m so glad you all are here …”

“We’ve got to show up and show out all the country,” said Arnwine, a radio talk show host and president and founder of Transformative Justice Coalition. “There’s nothing more important in this moment. We must harness the energy, passion and strategy.”

Arnwine, host of Igniting Change with Barbara Arnwine, said voter suppression is a critical issue that’s getting scant public attention. Republican legislators have been engaged in a steady assault against black voting rights.

“Not everyone’s talking about it but in 2016, 2 million less Black votes were counted, an 11 percent decrease from 2012,” she said. “In Detroit, 77,000 ballots weren’t counted when the presidential election was settled with 60,000 votes. We need to be very clear of the fight in front of us.”

In a recent case, Hawkins v Kemp, the plaintiff Miranda Hawkins – with help from the American Civil Liberties Union – filed suit in 2017 to have the court reverse a voter roll purge by Georgia election officials who scrubbed 300,000 African-Americans from the rolls after sending letters threatening to remove them.

Johnson asserted that one of the most pressing challenges affecting African-Americans is the housing gap and building legacy wealth.

“In the most recent recession, African Americans lost billions in real estate and half of all African Americans are now renting,” she said. “We’re paying someone else’s mortgage note, someone who doesn’t live in our community. Why can’t we put our people in a home?”

Mallory expressed her concern about motivating young people to invest in the political system enough to believe that their vote can make a significant difference.

“I found out during the last election that people were well-intentioned but broken,” she said. “They didn’t vote because they saw a system that does not work for them …. No one has taught young people how to access their power through the vote. We can get them to participate but we’ve got to teach them the power of the vote. We have to figure out how to do that.”

Brazile used the bully pulpit to galvanize the audience.

“We want to put Democrats back in the statehouses,” she said. “Women turn out when it’s rainy, hot, humid or stormy. Gubernatorial and statehouse races must be our focus. We must also be concerned with the (US) Senate. This is the moment to stretch our reach and ensure that that (politicians) understand and respond to our desires and issues. We need healthcare and still need jobs, vocational training and funding for HBCUs. We must also make a commitment to register five more people (each).”

 
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