I know sometimes the news about the injustice I bring can be pretty heavy, so this morning I’m gonna mix it up a bit and share some good news stories from the elections on Tuesday!
Let me give what I’m going to say a quick preface. Democrats are better than Republicans on 20 issues that matter to our community – but we must still hold all of these men and women accountable for the promises they make and the principles they claim to live by. Too often, Democrats run campaigns that sell us the moon, then get in office and sell out to lobbyists and corporations. A politician is a politician – and we must hold them all accountable.
With that said – I’m genuinely excited about some stuff I saw happen on Election Day – particularly in light of the fact that it was an off year election. If we can take what we did on Tuesday and improve on it in all 50 states over these next few years, we can make some real change happen.
No race meant more to me, and to the national community of criminal justice reformers than the race for District Attorney in Philadelphia, where a man named Larry Krasner was running for the position. Larry had already won the Democratic primary and was largely expected to win the general election in Philly, but his challenger mounted a serious campaign. In the end, Larry still won a whopping 75% of the vote.
Immediately, he becomes the most progressive, reform-minded District Attorney in the entire country. And what Philadelphia just did is what we must duplicate 2,000 more times in every major city in America with a District Attorney. Let me break it down. No single position impacts criminal justice more than your District Attorney. Nearly 100% of the time, newly elected DA’s rise up through the DA’s Office – meaning that even when new ones are elected – it’s normally much of the same foolishness.
Not with Larry. He’s not a prosecutor. He’s a lifelong civil rights attorney and criminal justice reformer. He’s a local legend in Philadelphia and has fought his entire life to protect everyday people from the abuses of this system. He has made pledges of sweeping changes and we’re going to hold him to it, but we need to run people like Larry Krasner from coast to coast.
Let me tell you about Stephanie Morales – the District Attorney of Portsmouth, Virginia. In 2015, in the entire country, one white police officer was convicted for killing an unarmed black man – one – and that officer was charged and prosecuted by Stephanie Morales – a young progressive reform-minded Black woman who just won re-election on Tuesday. That’s important – because DA’s have always said privately that you can’t hold police accountable AND win re-election. Stephanie just proved otherwise.
On this past Monday, our nation didn’t have even one Black Lieutenant Governor. 50 spots – and not one was Black. And that’s a shame because the Lt. Governor position is most often how someone leaps to become Governor or even a US Senator. Well, now we have two. New Jersey elected Sheila Oliver – the first Black Lt. Governor ever there and Virginia elected a good young brother named Justin Fairfax as their Lt. Governor.
Right away, they become the most visible Black elected officials in their state. This is important, politically, of course, but it’s also so damn important for young people in New Jersey and Virginia to see men and women who look like them in these statewide positions.
The City of Charlotte just elected Vi Lyles as Mayor – and she became the first Black woman ever to hold the position.
38-year-old Melvin Carter just became the first black Mayor of St. Paul Minnesota.
Speaking of first black mayors – the entire state of Montana has never had a black mayor – not one. Until now! Wilmot Collins, who arrived in the United States as a refugee from civil war in Liberia in the 80s, was just elected Mayor in Helena, Montana. This is a huge deal.
We saw groundbreaking moments like this all over the country – and I’m encouraged – but let me point us in the right direction.
When Republicans get their butts kicked like they did on Tuesday – they don’t sit idly by – ever. They organize. They fundraise. They gerrymander and reshape districts. They attack voting rights. They stir up fear. They create fake scandals. They’ll even go to war if they have to. I’m dead serious. When Republicans find themselves with their backs up against the wall, they’ll do absolutely anything to protect the power they have and to expand the power they want.
Tuesday was great, but that was just a start. We can’t just duplicate what we did on Tuesday, we have to take what we did this week and make it better in city by city and state by state – knowing that conservatives are plotting how to stop us as we speak. Let’s organize and fight back!
Making History: African American Politicians Breaking Boundaries
1. Melvin Carter1 of 9
2. Sheila Oliver2 of 9
3. Andrea Jenkins3 of 9
4. Vy Lyles4 of 9
5. Wilmont Collins5 of 9
6. Brendon Barber6 of 9
7. Johnathan McColler7 of 9
8. Mary Parham Copelan8 of 9
9. Brooker Gainor9 of 9
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Shaun King: Feel Good Stories From Tuesday’s Elections was originally published on blackamericaweb.com