Summer of Political Education
The School year is now officially over and we must now focus our attention on educating our people regarding the political process that is taking place in our community. Last week, Councilman Charles Barron, a candidate for congress in the 10th Congressional District, rocked an audience of over three thousand at the graduation being held at the Boys and Girls High School’s Class of 2006. Principal Emeritus Frank Mickens introduced Barron as the only Black- elected official that reached out to him upon his retirement after thirty-seven years of service to the New York City Department of Education. Through Barron’s support, Mickens now sits as a senior fellow and professor at Baruch College.
Councilman Barron began his speech by challenging the students to love their Blackness, and to embrace their culture. He brought the audience to their feet when he performed a rap song that he wrote in the late 80’s called the “Rapping Daddies”. This is the same enthusiastic response that Councilman Barron receives, whether he is speaking before seniors, public housing residents, homeowners or members of the Hip- Hop community.
The Charles Barron for Congress Campaign is for real. It presents a great challenge to Black Brooklyn’s “Business as Usual” political establishment. People from around the city view this campaign as a movement, and have created a buzz around town. Some of Brooklyn’s most prominent ministers, educators, artists, and civic leaders have embraced Barron’s candidacy. They recognize the value of a powerful leader like Charles Barron in Congress. Councilman Barron distinguished himself as a first-term legislator, helping to pass four budgets, co-sponsoring progressive legislation which led to the passage of a living wage, lead paint and predatory lending bills. He has brought millions of dollars into his district, along with leading the charge that brought twenty-eight million dollars to address the crisis of Black male unemployment.
Barron has always promoted Black political empowerment through both his actions and advocacy. He is the only council member that supported a Black person as Speaker of the City Council. He also supported C. Virginia Fields for Mayor, while most of Brooklyn’s political leadership supported Gifford Miller. He currently supports Charlie King for New York State Attorney General, while most of the entrenched political leaders are supporting Andrew Cuomo for this position. Brooklyn’s Black population is the largest in New York City, and Kings is the largest Democratic county in the United States. According to Barron, “White men have too much power in all aspects of government.”
His candidacy is really about launching a movement for Black political empowerment. Mr. Barron was recently cited in the Gleaner Newspaper in Jamaica, West Indies, for being the only member of the New York City Council to submit the necessary documents that led to the co-naming of Church Avenue to Bob Marley Boulevard. According to Councilman Barron, “This was a no-brainer. Bob Marley is a world leader, revolutionary artist and one of my personal heroes.” He went on invoking Marley’s spirit in reciting a verse from “Redemption Song”: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.
The 10th Congressional District’s campaign may be our redemption song, and allow us to finally fulfill the book. The summer of political activity must be about us freeing our minds and becoming educated about what is best for our community. Thus far, the current incumbent, Ed Towns, has refused to engage in a congressional debate. It is time to emancipate ourselves from mental and political slavery.