The Glover Report: Kweisi Mfume: Does He Represent Black Empowerment, White Empowerment, or Himself?
By Doni Morton Glover, www.bmorenews.com
(BALTIMORE – January 9, 2012) - There was a time when Kweisi Mfume had the heart of the people. Today, however, some question his validity and relevance in terms of being a bona fide advocate on behalf of black people in Maryland. Like others before him, maybe he has found it easier to turn a blind eye to black issues. Some even question if he got paid for his endorsements of white men over the years.
One thing is clear: The former NAACP President and CEO and former Congressman, who has had his share of sexual scandals, is not endorsing state Senator C. Anthony Muse for US Senate in the Tuesday, April 3rd 2012 Primary Election. His pick is US Senator Ben Cardin, the man he lost to in the 2006 election.
Considering his level of influence in Maryland politics, the concern is that black Baltimore, black Baltimore County, and black Prince George’s County (among others) deserve more of a return on their investment in the Maryland Democratic Party – and Mfume. Hence, his input and influence would have been useful and well appreciated as black Marylanders are still seeking a black prominent elected official in Maryland.
Repeatedly, the Maryland Democratic Party fails to honor and serve the most loyal constituency that helps keep them in power.
It seems the last time there was any progress in Maryland for black folks, it was when then-State Senator Clarence Mitchell, IV and then-Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland Michael Steele – a man who got Oreo cookies tossed at him - were in the midst of the election of Maryland’s first Republican Governor in 36 years, Congressman Robert Ehrlich. Back then, redistricting was – once again – a critical issue well deserving of astute attention by any so-called black leader in Maryland.
Let me be clear: I feel the national Republican effort has been - generally speaking – selfish and has certainly not acted too favorably for the poor and for minorities. However, on the state level, I can readily recall where the Republicans earned the African American vote and earned it well. Literally! Coppin State, for example, got money it was owed for decades. $300 million, if I’m not mistaken. Consequently, the Historically Black College campus that I grew up around finally looks like a legitimate institution of higher learning. And the damn shame is that it was the Republicans who made that happen – not the ‘all-powerful’ Democratic Party. What the ….? It makes one wonder if Maryland’s Democratic leadership is at all concerned about black progress in Maryland. Sippin’ the Kool Aid again, I guess!
Call me a rebel. Call me what you want. I just think black and brown folks deserve better in Maryland. I think people of color deserve a major role in state politics – which typically features white males and no one else. And I am not concerned about any single individual’s political ambitions. My concern is for the masses of bIack folks who constitute some 25 to 30% of the state’s population – according to Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Sen. Catherine Pugh. Selfishness, I think, is exactly the problem with America. Too often, politicians are only concerned about themselves. And that is exactly why this team is expressing its disdain for a system that was never designed for blacks … or Latinos and has been anti-everything as it relates to a progressive agenda. White is right. Black is back. Tan is grand and brown is down.
Seemingly, ever since Mfume left elected office – he has, directly or indirectly, still been a part of the black political landscape in Maryland – an assumed mouthpiece for blacks. A question becomes, however, whether or not his involvement has been on behalf of blacks in Maryland, the most loyal Democratic voting constituency – or if he has been simply used as a pawn to further an otherwise white male-dominated establishment agenda that has historically overlooked the needs of blacks in Maryland.
For instance, when Lawrence Bell faced Carl Stokes in 1999, Mfume was absolutely quiet for 10 weeks of campaigning that summer. At the end of the day, he did not endorse either Bell (who is Mfume’s cousin) or Stokes on the heels of a 12-year administration by Baltimore’s first elected black mayor, Kurt L. Schmoke. Interestingly, Washington, D.C. has kept a black mayor for the past 3 ½ decades. In DC, blacks better understand political power better than blacks in Maryland.
Nonetheless, Martin O’Malley, a white Irish American lawyer from Montgomery County, would eventually win that Baltimore City Mayoral Election utilizing an anti-crime platform – ushering in the O’Malley era. This is seen by many as an era marked by thousands of illegal arrests of black men in Baltimore City as a result of “zero tolerance” and an overall dis-empowerment of the majority black community in Baltimore, as articulated by the likes of Delegate Jill P. Carter, quite possibly O’Malley’s least favorite black politician.
*Since 1999, Mfume was repeatedly called upon by O’Malley to be the face of the then-new African American Heritage Festival (formerly known as ’Afram’). However, when Mfume decided to run for US Senate against then-Congressman Ben Cardin, a member of the most powerful Jewish political family in the state – he received absolutely no support from the white male dominated Maryland Democratic Party. Interestingly, Mfume received the most financial support from Prince George’s County and not his hometown of Baltimore City.
*In 2010, Mfume (along with Elijah Cummings, Delores Kelley, and Rev. Frank Reid) endorsed Kevin Kamenetz over Joe Bartenfelder for County Executive of Baltimore County. The problem is – 3 of those 4, including Mfume – have been totally silent in 2011 and beyond as Kamenetz has drastically reduced the black voting base of the 4th Councilmanic district in the current redistricting process. The black voting power of the Liberty Road area, one that both former Executive Jim Smith and County Executive Kamenetz depended on, has been diluted. Kelley, the state Senator for that area, has broken the silence now that her 10th state legislative district has been negatively disaffected – thanks to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting map – a plan she has recently (December 2011) called “terrible.”
‘Beggars sitting on bags of gold’: that is the plight of blacks in Maryland from a political standpoint. Despite being a quarter to a third of the population, despite being the most loyal Democratic voting bloc, despite the millions of tax dollars paid – blacks in Maryland are good enough to vote, but not good enough for which to vote. Smdh.
What do you think?
1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Excellent analysis on one of Maryland's most charismatic representatives. As the 7th District Congressman, Kweisi Mfume made it perfectly clear he was no one's "leader"; Kweisi said he was only the representative to congress.
Oftentimes we expect more than political representatives are capable of delivering. Yes, Mfume speaks well and he harbors few other leadership qualities. However, and nevertheless, unlike Rep. A. Muse, Mfume has no plans for leadership.
Hopefully the stats offered in attached article (Blacks being between 25 and 30% of MD's population) are correct. Latinos population nearly same as African Americans, places MD's "minorities" in excellent position to help decide if Rep. Muse shall topple Rep. Cardin in 2012 Senate race.
Not to mention the many many White and Jewish voters who are prepared to vote quality over popularity and quality over MD's "Democratic Machine".
Rep. Muse only needs to continue excellent campaign, and all campaign workers must develop strategies to get voters to vote election day. Rep. Muse will then become our new Democratic Senator to U.S. Senate from MD.
Mr Ori Shabazz