The era of mass marches, boycotts, and sit-ins will soon be buried alongside the mother of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks. As Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rev. Al Sharpton ascend into their golden years it becomes necessary for Black America to seek new leadership.
But who can lead Black America to the threshold of justice, equality, and freedom? Is there anyone with sufficient political clout and religious fervor to uplift African-Americans from the gallows poverty and unemployment? Is anyone willing to inject the African-American community with a healthy dose of self discipline that would employ them, refrain them from activity that leads to incarceration or HIV/AIDS? Can anyone save our communities from sub-standard schools that submerse Black children into sub-standard positions in life? A couple of leading African-American have proven themselves qualified and they are as follows.
Barack Obama, elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate from Illinois in 2004.He was born in Honolulu in 1961. He is an alumni of Occidental College in Los Angeles Columbia University carrying a degree in political science and a specialty in international relations. He graduated from Harvard Law School, in 1991, where he was the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Obama first served as a community organizer in Chicago neighborhoods, helping church groups create job-training programs, reform area schools, and improve city services. He also worked as a civil rights lawyer on voting rights and employment discrimination cases in federal and state courts. He chaired the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50-million philanthropic effort to reform the city’s public schools.
In the Senate, he currently serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee; the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety; the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water; the Foreign Relations Committee; and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters is considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in politics today. Her work has earned her the reputation of being an outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor.
In 1976 Waters quit her job and successfully ran for election to the California State Assembly. After serving for fourteen years in the Assembly, Waters successfully ran for a seat in the 29th Congressional District of California. In 1992, Waters ran in the much larger 35th District, representing South Central Los Angeles, Inglewood, Gardena and Hawthorne, and won 83 percent of the vote.
Waters continues to represent the 35th District. Waters focused attention on the plight of inner city communities as well as the allegations of CIA involvement in Contra cocaine drug trafficking in South Central Los Angeles in the mid-1980s.
Maxine Waters has been a fearless advocate for Black people for most of her life. Concerned too about African and Caribbean countries, Waters intervened when Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown in a coup and then allegedly forced from Haiti by the U.S. military. A portrait of courage, Waters says she’ll never stop fighting for justice.
Michael Eric Dyson
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is an ordained minister in the Baptist church and the author of The Michael Eric Dyson Reader, Open Mike; Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur; Why I Love Black Women; I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.; Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line; Between God and Gangsta Rap; Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X; and Reflecting Black. He is the definition of the new Black thinker.
Dyson merges hip-hop, politics, and religion to motivate young African Americans to break the shackles that bind them. He gives voice to the struggle of Blacks that representing the lower-income levels. In his recent book, Is Mr. Cosby Right or Has the Black Middle Class Lost It’s Mind, Dyson holds all African Americans accountable for the divides that exist in our community. Currently, Dyson is the Avalon Foundation professor in the Humanities Department at the University of Pennsylvania.