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It is imperative that African Americans remain politically active in next election

Melvin B. Miller | 6/26/2014, 6 a.m.
African Americans are key voting block and their votes can make the difference in a close election. In the presidential ...
“This is the only time I’ve ever been part of a championship” Photo by Dan Drew

An election is imminent of state constitutional officers — governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, auditor and secretary of state. With the weather becoming warmer, the hard work of campaigning is less attractive. However, African Americans must remain politically active to assure that the best candidates are on the November ballot, and to maintain the group’s top reputation.

African Americans are now the nation’s voter participation champions. In the presidential election of November 2012, 66.2 percent of eligible blacks went to the polls. That is higher than the 64.1 percent of whites who voted, the next highest rate. As is often the case in our highly competitive society, there is always an effort to defeat the champ and become number one.

Some commentators suggested that the black turnout was a fluke, but that could not be the case. Black women voted at a higher rate than whites in 2008. While the presence of Barack Obama on the ballot had something to do with the result, there has been a strong black Democratic vote since 1964.

Prior to that year, Republicans could depend upon a respectable black vote in presidential elections. However, Barry Goldwater adamantly opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and consequently tallied only 6 percent of the black vote. Lyndon Johnson took 94 percent of the black vote and he won by a landslide.

There are some who assert that the black vote was overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008 primarily because he is also black. But Obama’s black vote in 2008 was 95 percent, only one point greater than Johnson’s black vote 44 years earlier. The fact is that African Americans have become a political power in the U.S. They are stronger in some states than others. Conservatives are eager to vanquish the champions.

Republicans are unable to attract ethnic voters by the appeal of their political positions. Therefore, the only way to dampen the black vote is to prevent them from getting to the polls. Some Republican governors have amended the voting laws in their states to require official voter IDs and to eliminate other conveniences like early voting. The primary objective of these changes is to reduce the power of the black vote.

Black pride ought to motivate blacks to behave like voter participation champions. Voters should mobilize behind the candidates for governor and attorney general with the programs most beneficial to the community. The choice is Steven Grossman, Martha Coakley or Don Berwick for governor, and Warren Tolman or Maura Healey for attorney general. There is not much time left to campaign for the chosen candidates. The primary is on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and the final election is a short time later on Tuesday, Nov. 4. A vigorous campaign is necessary for a strong turnout for blacks to maintain their championship reputation.

Just as important is for blacks to support the candidate in each race who will do the most for the community. In later issues the Banner will provide information to help voters reach a decision early enough to help the community’s electoral choices over the top.