What Are Impacts For Black America? MLK Reflection…
On Saturday morning, January 12th at the historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas, former mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Obama administration, Julian Castro announced his intent to become the next President of the United States. The crowd, numbered in the thousands, lined up on San Antonio’s West Side to get a glimpse of the man who could become the nation’s first Latino President.
Minutes after the announcement telephone calls came in from Austin, Dallas, Houston, and across Texas to ask my thoughts. Even my Ohio friends wondered if Castro had the wide support of African Americans.
The necessary diverse coalition wasn’t on full display in the seventh largest US city as national media outlets covered the presidential announcement.
While the presentation begged for more inclusion, Castro promised that if elected he would push for Medicare for all, universal prekindergarten called Pre K 4 USA, changes to the cash-bail system and an end to police violence against African-Americans by supporting Black Lives Matter. He said his first Executive Act would be to rejoin the US to the Paris climate accord.
I offer the following (unsolicited) advice to the Castro Team…shore up your home city and ensure no stone is left unturned. The roll out of the announcement was not all-inclusive. The event location was in the heart of the Hispanic community, almost all of the speakers were Hispanic. I was told by Hispanic media experts, Castro wanted to show the pride and love of the West Side. However the stakes were raised by the very position he seeks to hold. This role out was about helping diverse voters to elect him as President of the United States.
Castro must deploy a diverse coalition of Americans to speak on his behalf. Remember, President Obama, a Black candidate, put Castro, a Latino, on center stage at the 2012 Democratic Convention. Likewise to win, Castro must find other than Latino examples to share his impacts and accomplishments.
Trump has shown us over and over again in his campaign rallies the importance of organizing the masses to show support from groups.
The photo opportunity didn’t include prominent African Americans, like Mayor Ivy Taylor. I was hoping the Castro team would involve the first African American female mayor of a city with a population over a million people, the Honorable Ivy Taylor. He left his legacy in her hands as he departed to work for President Obama. While she was not at the announcement, the story of her success, the infusion of Promise Zone federal resources and their shared history on City Council would have had a rippling social media impact across the nation. This was a lost opportunity. Furthermore I talked with Eastside pastors, NAACP leaders, and Black business owners who expressed to me they “could” get behind the former mayor if they were personally invited.
Now, I was impressed that Castro talked in detail about Black Lives Matter and the unmerited killings of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement. It was encouraging for him to speak on the topic that so many avoid. If you recall, when Hillary Clinton ran for President, initially she was at odds with the movement. Castro shouldn’t have that problem having worked for President Obama as Secretary of HUD. He was active in the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and had opportunities to address the many concerns of men of color to include Black Lives Matter. This is a feather in his cap.
Castro’s announcement reminded me of the lessons Hillary Clinton’s campaign team learned and experienced in San Antonio in her run in 2016. The Black community asked her campaign manager during an event at 2nd Baptist Church, what was Clinton’s economic plan to support the growth of the Black community. There was silence. One right answer could have been to increase Black businesses utilization. The manager stated that Hillary received Black leader endorsements and that was to satisfy us. Truth is she had no plan or specific agenda. In 2020, we can’t be an afterthought. In a nation where the wealth gap is very wide between African Americans and White America, for any candidate not to have a detailed plan is ridiculous.
Another positive, maybe overlooked, Julian Castro appointed Maya Rupert to be his campaign manager. Maya is an African American woman who will navigate his candidacy “without the benefit of PAC dollars.” This distinction is very important in how Castro values diversity and talent.
Overall, Julian Castro’s announcement is great for San Antonio, Texas and the country if his platform expands to address economic justice or empowerment for Black people. Economic justice includes entrepreneurship, education, health and wellness, and overall improving the quality of life of African Americans as one of his strategies.
As we celebrate the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we must be reminded he fought for African Americans, he understood the need to lift up Black people by focusing on the wealth gap and launched the Poor People’s campaign. Castro can draw from King’s Economic Bill of Rights – a document we all should read, and draw from this tangible document. Just my two cents, I hope you’re listening.