Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D_CA) used their time wisely
in their questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kaveaugh, the
elusive man whose hidden documents would perhaps disqualify him from
the court. Both (along with Senator Dianne Feinstein and others)
raised important points in grilling Kavenaugh, and Booker went on a
limb to defy Senate protocol and release so-called confidential
emails from Kavenaugh. He earned a warning from one of his
colleagues, and praise from embattled Democrats who are likely to
lose the fight to keep Kavenaugh off the court because the numbers
just don’t add up.
also pushed Kavenaugh hard, and left him speechless when she asked
him if he knew of any laws “that the government has the power
to make over the male body?” I whooped when she asked the
question, appreciating the point she was making. Kavenaugh could not
answer. He simply mumbled and fumbled. Most of the Democrats
brought their “A” game to these hearings, but I’m
lifting up Booker and Harris because they are examples of Black
political excellence. The two are also chairing the Congressional
Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, the annual September
gathering of African American legislators, activists, and others.
Both stand out because of their preparation, excellence, and
connections to the African American community.
weren’t the only recent examples of Black political excellence.
In Florida, the underfunded Andrew Gillum, the only non-millionaire
in the race for governor, pulled out an unexpected victory as
Democratic nominee. While he didn’t have the money that his
rivals had, he had an army of amazing volunteers who combed the state
mobilizing voters. The Tallahassee mayor who backed Hillary Clinton
in the 2016 Presidential race was boosted by a late endorsement from
Senator Bernie Sanders and critical campaign dollars from
billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros. His victory was close, but
it wasn’t a squeaker. And he vanquished former Congresswoman
Gwen Graham, daughter of a former governor and part of a political
has been most impressive about Gillum, though, has been his eloquence
and self-possession in the wake of his victory. Congressman Ron
DeSantis, the despicable Trump supporter who won the Republican
nomination, followed the example of his patron in using racially
coded language against Gillum, urging voters not to “monkey up”
the state. When asked about DeSantis’ ignorance in interviews,
Gillum asked voters and others to focus on the issues, not the
racism. He appeared unruffled in these exchanges, and indicated
exactly the kind of principled governor he will be. Excellence.
Boston, City Councilor Ayana Pressley defeated 10-term Congressman
Michael Capuano. With no Republican opposition, she will be the
first African American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.
Pressley also demonstrated excellence, resilience, and persistence.
Ignoring advice that she should “wait her turn” before
running for Congress, undeterred by the fact that many members of the
Congressional Black Caucus endorsed her opponent, Pressley remained
focused on her message and amassed an amazing army of volunteers to
earn a stunning victory. Excellence.
Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia is also an
example of this excellence. She pulverized her opponent, Stacey
Evans, back in June, and is now waging a campaign against another
Trump-type opponent. Her excellence stands out and makes her a role
model for other African American women who seek higher office, often
against all odds. She has used her personal story to galvanize
people, much in the same ways that Ayanna Pressley and Andrew Gillum
have. Their stories are persuasive to voters because they assure
voters that they may be able to better understand their hardships
than others can.
is exciting about the Black political excellence is that it also
represents a generational changing of the guard. Gillum is 39,
Pressley and Abrams, in their early 40s. Booker is 49, and Harris is
in her early 50s. This is quite a change from the entrenched
political leadership that endorsed Pressley’s opponent. It
doesn’t suggest that the entrenched generation needs to “step
aside”; as some have said, but it does suggest that they will
have to find ways to work together and learn from each other.
awful outcome of the 2016 election has emboldened young African
Americans to seek public office, against all odds. It’s an
exciting development in an otherwise gloomy political time, and it
ought also be motivation for people to vote in the midterm elections!