Is Philly’s Democratic leadership a friend or foe of Blacks? | Michael Coard

Philadelphia District Attorney (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

By Michael Coard

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee is supposed to be a friend of Black people. After all, Black people keep Democrats in power in Philly. But what do we get in return? We get a slap in the face. We get disrespected. And we get told to get back on the plantation until the next election.

Friends aren’t supposed to be treated like that, which is exactly why the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wisely pointed out, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And it was our so-called friends in the Democratic City Committee, through its executive board, who on March 25 refused to endorse Larry Krasner, the incumbent Democratic and impressively progressive district attorney who has always fought for Black folks in the criminal justice system.

By being silent and refusing to endorse him, the Democratic City Committee indirectly and intentionally endorsed a Republican in Democratic clothing, the same candidate who was financed by the Republican FOP, which is the same organization that twice endorsed racist fake President Donald Trump who was twice endorsed by the KKK. The FOP is the same organization that partied with the racist thuggish Proud Boys.

Not only that, but those same so-called friends in the Democratic City Committee were at odds with local Black organizations and local Black elected officials who enthusiastically endorsed Krasner — the man I call “The Blackest White Guy I Know.”

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Those Black organizations and officials who endorsed him include the Guardian Civic League (Black Police Officers’ Association), Valiants (Black Firefighters’ Association), Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Philadelphia Tribune Editorial Board, Councilmember Kendra Brooks, state Rep. Morgan Cephas, state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson, state Sen. Art Haywood, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, Councilmember Curtis Jones, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, state Rep. Rick Krajewski, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, Councilmember Cherelle Parker, Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez, state Rep. Chris Rabb, state Sen. Sharif Street, Councilmember Isaiah Thomas and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.

As reported by Michael D’Onofrio of the Tribune, “Jay McCalla, a former city deputy managing director, said the Democratic committee’s non-endorsement of an incumbent was the ‘height of injustice’ … (that put Krasner) at a real outreach disadvantage when it comes to the Black vote.” McCalla, as usual, was right. Fortunately, though, Black folks know a white ally when they see one. And they saw Krasner.

By the way, during Krasner’s victory speech shortly before 11 p.m. on May 18, the first thing he did was to specifically and profusely thank “the African-American voters” who were primarily responsible for his win.

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I should mention that not only did the Democratic City Committee not endorse the pro-Black candidate, but, according to Chris Brennan in the Inquirer’s Clout column on April 2, “Two people in the (meeting) room who spoke to Clout about the private meeting” stated that “a majority of the party’s Policy Committee members were leaning hard toward … [Krasner’s] challenger. …” What? Leaning hard? A majority? For the fake Democrat?

With friends like the Democratic City Committee, who needs Trump/Rizzo Republican enemies?

Maybe Black folks need to consider forming a local party in order to combat the plantation-style disrespect from the Democratic City Committee. Maybe Black folks need to take a page out of the book of Fannie Lou Hamer and her Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) that was formed in 1964 as an alternative to the non-progressive (i.e., conservative) Democratic Party of Mississippi.

As documented in Britannica Encyclopedia, “With the support of Martin Luther King Jr., the MFDP nominated three African American women — (including) Hamer — to run against the traditional Democrats in the state’s 1964 congressional elections. … That year, the National Democratic Party held its convention in Atlantic City, N.J., and the MFDP sent its delegation … (but) President Lyndon B. Johnson and other Democratic Party leaders” refused to name the multiracial and popular MFDP as the official delegation from Mississippi and instead chose the delegation run by white Mississippi rabid racists.

Undoubtedly, Philly’s Democratic leadership must start “dancin’ with who brung ‘em.” Time and time again, we take the local Democrats to the party and time and time again, the local Democrats leave with somebody else, in this most recent case the racist Republican FOP.

And it keeps happening. Look at what happened in 2019. As I wrote in my Tribune column on May 24 of that year, “No Black candidate for Common Pleas judge or Municipal Court judge was elected during the Philadelphia primary on May 21. Not one. Racists will say that’s because not one of the eight Black candidates among the 27 total candidates was qualified. And I’d say those racists are liars.”

In my column, I provided objective proof regarding each of those Black candidates’ stellar qualifications. Then I added, “Much of the fault lies with the … Democratic City Committee and some of its officials for their failure to endorse … (or) promote the many qualified Black candidates based on merit (instead of what, in my personal opinion, was nothing more than extortionist demands for about $60,000 apiece in political ‘bribe’ money from each judicial candidate).”

And more recently, in this May primary, an eminently qualified Black (current/temporary) judge like the Hon. Mark Moore and an eminently qualified pro-Black lawyer like Caroline Turner were not, in my learned opinion, enthusiastically endorsed or sufficiently promoted by the Democratic City Committee. Hopefully, though, Judge Moore — a remarkably just jurist — as well as progressive and skillful attorney Turner, will be appointed to any judicial vacancies by the Democratic governor upon strong recommendation by the Democratic City Committee. Hopefully!

It looks like Black voters might have to start interrogating many, if not most, of the members of the Democratic City Committee to find out how anti-Black they are. That’s your job. But before they are interrogated, they must be identified, exposed and condemned. That’s my job. Stay tuned.

Michael Coard is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this column first appeared

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Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation on how politics and public policy affects the day-to-day lives of people across the commonwealth.