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Ferguson, Missouri’s lesson on elections

Being Majority Minority does not beget power - voting does.

Melvin B. Miller | 8/19/2014, 2:44 p.m.
Ferguson demonstrates to blacks in Boston and elsewhere that voting is not at all an idle exercise.
Primary Candidates in Massachusetts Gubernatorial Race. Courtesy of MassVote

The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., at the hands of the police has aroused international attention. For African American men, the incident is simply a replay of an old historic theme. Despite the progress of blacks in America, the danger of being gunned down by an irascible police officer still exists. Ferguson demonstrates to blacks in Boston and elsewhere that voting is not at all an idle exercise.

The remedy against such a fatal hazard has been the development of political power. It is surprising that a St. Louis suburb, with a 69 percent black population, has apparently not yet received the news about the importance of political participation. According to reports there are no blacks in major positions of the power structure.

Angry residents gather daily to protest the shooting of 18-year-old Brown. That is understandable. Perhaps beneficial change will result. But the most effective way to develop power against such abuse is to show up on Election Day in support of candidates committed to the welfare of the community.

On Sept. 9, only three Tuesdays away, there will be a primary election in Massachusetts. Much is at stake for blacks, Latinos and Asians in Greater Boston. The question is whether the state’s new governor will be someone committed to the business and economic development of so-called minority groups.

The Banner has endorsed Steve Grossman, the state treasurer, as the one most likely to focus on economic growth. The most important matter, however, is that voters go to the polls in great numbers. The tragedy in Ferguson has taught blacks an awful lesson about what can happen when people forget about the necessity of a commitment to political power.