Alert: this is a critical moment for local Black politics


Northeast / Pennsylvania 396 Views

by Fred Logan, For New Pittsburgh Courier

It could not have happened at a better time for Black political struggle in Allegheny County. So, the Black community must “seize the time” and integrate Black protest politics and Black electoral politics

On Sept. 20, one White man and two Asian men attacked two Black women at a gas station on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The attack was captured on cell phone video and spread across the United States. Black people in Allegheny County are outraged. The office of right-wing Allegheny County district attorney, Stephen Zappala, charged the attackers with simple assault. The Black community is equally outraged over that.

Currently, Zappala, a professional nemesis of the Black community, is running for reelection in the Nov. 6, 2019 general election just a few weeks away. And over the next seven months Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and the other U.S. presidential candidates on the Democratic Party’s slate will be vying for Black votes in the April 2020 Pennsylvania primaries.

Over the next 12 months the entire United States will be in midst of its most turbulent presidential race—kin to a barrel house brawl—since the US Civil War. The gas station attack and Zappala’s decision take place in this context and lit a fire storm of Black resistance across Allegheny County.

The Black protesters are mobilizing the community with protests in the streets, meetings, petitions and other tactics. They are politicizing, that is educating, the community with these same tactics.

The next vital step is to organize this mobilization and education into a mass county wide Black vote “against” Zappala in the November election.

Lisa Middleman, Zappala’s opponent, may or may not be more favorable to the concerns of the Black community than Zappala. Middleman is an “independent.” Independents can be on the US far-right, the far left, or anywhere in between.

Most important here is what a massive Black voter turnout organized by the Black community’s own labor and resources would mean for Black struggle in the immediate future and for the long run. The day after the upcoming November election the Black community can compare the county-wide Black vote with its counterpart in 2017 and 2015.

If the vote is significantly or even moderately larger that will be because of county-wide African American mobilization, politicization, and organization. And the Black community must publicly take the credit for it. All sorts of political interest groups will try to take credit for it, to promote their own agenda and stymie Black agency.

Local Black and White Democratic Party loyalists, who had claimed they could not come out and publicly oppose the party’s endorsed DA candidate, and hid before the general election, will come out after November 6 and claim credit for the Black vote.

Some 40 years ago, the all-Black Pittsburgh chapter of the National Black Independent Political Party and the ad hoc September 11 Mobilization Committee (also Black) organized the Sept. 11, 1982 “March against Dope” in Homewood which attracted over 700 people.

About six months later shortly before the Easter Holiday, then Pittsburgh mayor Richard Caliguiri spoke at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church at Kelly and Collier Streets in Homewood. In touting his administration’s work in the community, Caliguiri said “we” recently held a march against dope in Homewood.

Randall Robinson, who spearheaded “Free South Africa Movement” during the U.S. anti-apartheid struggles of the 1980s, said that a “politician” is someone who, “if you organize a parade he (or she) will walk in front of it.”

Out of their own pocket books, Black people can pay for this one-month sprint to election-day that the community is geared up and eager to run.

The struggle would integrate Black protest politics with Black electoral politics. This integration is way past due. But Black people must never romanticize, as some do, either tactic as the panacea for black struggle.

Keep in mind, the epic Black-led Civil Rights Movement launched countless protest demonstrations large and small. But the same is also true of the Ku Klux Klan and White America at large.

Black people have casted their votes, ran for and won public elected office all the way up to the White House. This is also true of White People who vehemently hate Black people.

Protest politics and electoral politics are political weapons in the arsenal of the Black Freedom Movement, and Black people must master the art and science of both weapons and apply them to the specifies of each struggle they wage.

A county wide protest-electoral struggle against Zappala can do wonders for honing the Black community’s skills in Black coalition-building. Internal Black coalition building is indispensable for Black people and organizations to take part with equal footing in coalitions outside of the Black community.

A Black protest-election struggle against Zappala can go a long way to prepare Black people in Allegheny County for the day-to-day struggles they are bound to confront no matter who wins the Alleghany County DA race in November 2019 or the US presidential race in November 2020.

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