Are Black Chicagoans required to vote for Carol Moseley Braun?

Are Black Chicagoans required to vote for Carol Moseley Braun?

As the calendar turned to 2011, Danny Davis turned the calendar back to 1983. When he dropped out of the race for mayor, preferring a candidate to unify black voters, he said: “I want to make sure at least one of us has what is needed,” Davis said after withdrawing from the race on December 31st. Davis then called Braun “the best candidate.”

If Braun was the best candidate, what has Danny Davis been doing for the last two months?

Davis decided to get out of the race after several meetings among Chicago’s African-American leaders attempting to find a unity candidate that could improve the odds of electing an African American mayor in Chicago.

Now that there is one major black candidate left (Patricia Val Pelt Watkins and William “Dock” Walls are on the ballot), are black Chicagoans supposed to blindly vote for Carol Moseley Braun? Is that what black leadership is telling us?

Behind Moseley Braun and Danny Davis were the same leaders that have been “leading” the Chicago black community since Harold Washington was mayor- prominent among them was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who wanted one candidate the black community could unify behind. Jackson mediated the discussions between the Davis and Moseley Braun campaigns to decide on who would emerge the black community’s unity candidate.

Maybe its being from a different generation, but being in Grant Park on November 4, 2008, changed racial politics for me. When I voted for Barack Obama, I voted for him because he was the best candidate, not because he was black. That is why he overwhelmingly won the election- because he was the best candidate. That historic night in Grant Park changed things. That night the spirit of Obama’s candidacy rang out in the park and across the nation and world- the best person will win an election regardless of race. Danny Davis’s withdrawal from the race and the reasons therefor defeats that spirit.


Our “black leaders” want to turn back the clock to 1983. They want us to vote for someone solely based upon color of skin, rather than whether that candidate is the best person for the job.

As I turn the calendar to 2011, such a rationale for my vote is simply offensive. After researching the candidates, I’ll go the ballot box and vote for the best candidate, rather than the black candidate. The black community would be incensed if Rahm Emanuel said “vote for me, I’m white!” Effectively, that’s the message our black leaders gave us Friday night. “The realities are that when our community comes together, as the song says, ain’t no stopping us now,” Danny Davis proclaimed after dropping out of the race.

Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle, both Latino, have not pitted themselves as the “Latino” candidate, but rather as the best candidate for the job. After Danny Davis dropped from the race, Gery Chico portrayed both Emanuel and Braun as Washington D.C. politicians, while noting that he himself has only worked in Chicago politics as the former Chicago Board of Education president and Mayor Daley’s former chief of staff: “I succeeded in every public service position I held because I built coalitions across ethnic and racial lines.”

Emanuel gave a similar tone in his statement after Davis dropped out of the race: “With all of the challenges we face, we must come together to work on behalf of all Chicagoans and address the needs of every neighborhood.”

After Barack Obama won the presidential election, I am left to disagree with the aged group of black political leaders, like Danny Davis, Carol Moseley Braun and Jesse Jackson. I disagree with their assessment that voters are more focused on race than qualifications.

Later this month, we will celebrate Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and influence on our nation. Over forty years ago, while upon the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he shared his dream of what our great nation would become:

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. King’s dream is becoming a reality. Our “black leaders”, ironically, many of whom were with King when he made his speech, are keeping us back from realizing the dream. It may be nice to have a black mayor, but I’d rather have the best person do the job, black, white or Latino.  That should be the basis for our vote- not because Jesse Jackson, Danny Davis and James Meeks tell us that Carol Moseley Braun is the best black candidate for mayor. If you believe she is the best candidate, by all means, vote for Moseley Braun. But a vote for her because she is black, gets us farther away from Dr. King’s dream.


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  • seriously this is a brilliant post. you are now my early odds-on favorite to win 'best political blogger in chicago' award for 2011. this post has insight and intelligence -- characteristics notably absent from the stupid rants on almost all other chicago pol blogs. thank you thank you thank you.

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    Why is it ok for Braun to say " the blck vote " ?
    If Daley said we must have the " white vote " , you media people would say that was a racist statement.
    What Braun said is racist and she needs to be called out on it !
    For everyone who wants equality , a woman like Braun will never let it happen with her racist talk.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    I a white person backs one of his kind he is racist.
    If a black person wotes for one of their kind it is ok..
    That is not right..Either both postions are racist or neither are , I am tired of the media slanting it one way.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    This black candidate thing is all foolishness. This is not 1968 when it was necessary to have black representation because we had none. In these times, when blacks have been elected and or appointed to most every office in the country, we would be better served by looking among all possible candidates to select one that would serve the interests of all. There definitely are problems in predominately black neighborhoods that do not exist in other neighborhoods. However, I challenge these so called great candidates regarding why before now they have not stepped up to offer some concrete plans for how to improve the conditions in these hoods. Mosely-Braun had her chance and basically blew it. Danny Davis is too old and needs to focus on his current office. Meeks showed everybody beyond gay folks what a racist bigot he is, not capable of forming any kind of coalition Walls runs for everything. Basically, the so called black coalition has made itself look very silly and just contributed to Emmanuel's popularity. Get a clue people, the paradigm has shifted and you're still stuck in the old one.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Thank you so much, Brian Thomas. I, too, was offended and absolutely incensed over our so-called black leadership's latest escapade. The idea that they believe in this day and age that they can select a "concensus" black candidate and expect all blacks to vote for that candidate simply because she is black is archaic and just plain ignorant. We cannot muddle the message that people must look beyond skin color and focus on character and qualifications. But that is what just happened in our mayoral race. Yes I feel proud when I see a black person succeed. But the pride comes in knowing that the best person happened to be black. The stakes are high in running a world-class city such as Chicago. It is plain stupidity to suggest that we vote for anyone other than the best candidate for the job. When Jesse Jackson, Danny Davis, and the rest of them colluded to make Carol Mosely Braun the consensus candidate, it was an insult to the intelligence of thinking black people.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Blacks voted for Daly 90% of the time while he was in office for over 20yrs even against some blacks running.Did you or other like you ever vote for a black candidate......? I didn't think so!!!!! What's racist is your comments on the matter!!! Braun didn't say that!!! The media is making it about race.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    This is the biggest crock of bull Obama was NOT the best man for the job he was elected strictly because he is black and for no other reason, He is the most inexperienced President we have ever had, for one we are still not sure he is a American citizen 2nd a President is the Commander and cheif of out Armed forces OK how can that be he has Never Ever served in the Armed forces so what gives him the right to be over our Militery he knows nothing about the Militery, He spends a fortune on his vacation's which he takes more then one a year splurging money like it has no end, this ,man is out for only himself, like I said he was voted in just for his color with all his false promises. he is the worst President we have ever had, I will be glad when he is gone, Martin Luther King would have done a much better job.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Adella1, the Tea Potty --er, PARTY Express is thataway -->. Grown people are talking here.

    That being said, Mr. Thomas' comments mirror my sentiment regarding the selection of Carol Moseley Braun as "the consensus candidate."

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    carol moseley braun is the best candidate for the job, she will not only help the blacks, but all of chicago ... and then there is rob ... since rob emmaual is already prepared to lie about residence; then, we know his m.o. (many people move & leave 'things' behind, many people have homes all over the world. rob has a criminal mind (rob, one resides where they sleep everynite) ... danny is old & slow ... chico is too polically corrupt ... blacks, hispanics, asians & whites should vote for braun ... provided she distance herself from jesse jackson.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Is this the best the black Chicago political elite can do? If so, this is indeed a ship of fools. Jesse Jackson supposedly "brokered" a deal to put a nearly bankrupt and clearly incompetent Carol Moseley Braun in a dog fight she has no chance of winning.
    Why? What's he getting out of this, and from whom?
    In a time when Chicago is in dire financial straits, he trots out a bankrupt old lady who needs to find a job?
    The black Chicago political elite is a ship of fools.
    Shame on them for making Carol Moseley Braun walk the plank.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Good to see so many intelligent people talking this out. Perhaps this means at least SOME kind of advance past both racism and reverse-racism -- most can at least call it when they see it.

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    This post is not brilliant, because it contributes to the confusion on race relations and politics, rather than educating the public on how to think about race and politics. This post singles out blacks for making an effort to unify behind a candidate, but doesn't mention the corresponding effort of the Latino and white communities to do exactly the same thing. Why? In my opinion it is the difference between race and ethnicity.

    Blacks in large part have only one identity - race. Most non-blacks have two identities, race and ethnicity. Therefore you can have whites rail about the false dichotomy of a Miss Black America, while still supporting the idea of Miss Celtic America or Miss Knights of Columbus. You have Latinos organizing around their commonality as Latins, but still retain their ethnic heritage as Cubans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, etc. Why is Rahm Emmanual the only serious "white" candidate? Because consensus politics picked a candidate to represent the white community.

    Ethnicity and race have an interplay that largely goes un-discussed in the political sphere, and it results in circumstances where whites believe that they are being treated unfairly or in a politically correct way. I don

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    The more Carol Moseley Braun speaks, the more she proves that she's the sacrificial lamb for the "Black Consensus." She answers questions as if she studied from the "4th Grader's Approach To Government And Politics." Neil Steinberg of the Sun Times criticizes her, she accuses him of racism calls him a drunk and a wife-beater. Newspapers question her finances, she replies with "Well, they're bankrupt."

    She's going to get trounced, but (as a friend of mine observed) she'll be able to add "I ran for mayor of the city of Chicago" to her anti-legacy.

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    Would you say this is racist? The definition of insanity is "to do the same thing over and over even if the result is bad", I would say this describes Chicago politics. Braun has done nothing except being black Rahm has done nothing unsleazy-some choice. You see the result of having a person with no experience other than giving my money to people who do not work-Obama is bankrupting the country and both these candidates will do the same for Chicago, Cook county and Illinois. Isn't there anyone who is honorable in Chicago to be Mayor?

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    The article stated many voted for Obama for various reasons but one that might be overlooked is the aging US Supreme Court had openings that required filling by the Democrates. Obama was truly an afterthought with the pendng vacancies looming. A President is gone in 8 for sure and Obama Might be One and Done. With the politics in Chicago, might it be time we all look beyond the choosen prominent Black who represents other Prominent Black to see if who will be provide long lasting value? Black Chicago residents have endured long years of suffering under many... poor residents are of all colors - who has regardless of color can best deliver a better Chicago so they all do better not just a few do better in the race?

  • In reply to dubsdread18:

    Sure they are...if Latinos are obligated to vote for del Valle and Chico, and if Jews are obligated to vote for Emanuel. What kind of dumb question is that?

  • The purpose of a single and credible black candidacy is to assure that black peoples' interests are addressed as vigorously as any other community's interests. This does not mean, however, that merely having "black faces in high places" will, or has ever, sufficed -- as demonstrated by the reign of the only "black" Justice of the Supreme Court. If Obama's "post-racial" world truly existed, then you are right: A candidate's ethnicity would not matter. But, alas, we still live in a very racialized society, and it is therefore more likely than not that a putative black person will be more sensitive to the needs and desires of black people. This does not mean that such a person will be less sensitive to the needs of any other community, but that blacks will be given at least an equal and fair hearing.

  • In reply to HerbInChicago:

    Herb, I understand what you're saying. My question is what will Carol Moseley Braun (or any black mayor) really do as mayor to cure the ills within the black community? Ultimately, it's our responsibility-- not the mayor-- to tend to the needs of the black community. That's the way I feel about Obama-- the president can't create jobs on particular blocks, force our children to go to school, teach our children to value education, read to our children every night, make certain they are doing their homework while staying involved in their lives and keeping them off the streets-- isn't that up to us? Presidnet Obama can't force me to be a good father. That's up to me.

    Maybe if you give me a couple concrete examples of where CMB (or any black mayor) will be more sensitive to the needs of the black community, I will understand better. I just don't understand ceding my personal responsibility for myself and my family to a government official we don't know, who claims to speak for us. Yes, having Obama as President gives us a role model, someone our children can look up too, to prove that with an education and hard work anything is possible; but CMB shouldn't be mayor because the black community needs more role models.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    ESPECIALLY CMB cannot be (should not be) a role model...unless her endorsement is the black community endorsement of a tax evader and welfare cheater. Oh yes, plenty of white people (powerful white people) have cheated on their taxes while cultivating power, but they are not held up as "role models". They are opportunists...and they're is a long list of them...Rezo, Blagoevich, Shakowsky, and so on...but they are not role models. How about a role model like Condoleezza Rice?

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    NO NO NO should Black people be obligated to vote for Carol Moseley Braun, and Black people were not obligated to vote for Harold Washington, nor Barack Obama or any other candidate that comes from the Black community. I am so grateful to God that I have been around long enough to have been an active and systematic part of the grassroots leadership and part of the political dynamics from the first Black Mayor to the first Black President. Throughout this ENTIRE Process I have seen NOT ONE directive that says that Black people were obligated to vote for Carol Moseley Braun, nor did I hear it from Meeks, Davis or Rev. Jackson!! What I did hear is that Black people should maximize their 600,000 registered Black voters to finally be able to elect a candidate from the Black community since Harold, BUT NOT simply becaue they were Black.

    Rev. Meeks and Congressman Davis PERSONALLY chose to set aside their personal ambitions, KEEP OUR political seniority in the State and Federal Governments and then use the historic candidacy of Ambassador and Senator Carol Moseley Braun and ADD to our poltical base, and then that decision was backed by our key business leaders have now pledged up to $5 million dollars for the Braun campaign, and kicked off a united front campaign before Meeks and Davis reported back this week to their seniority positions in the State and Federal Government and now the campaign for Braun moves on.

    It was like yesterday that I remember after we finally selected Harold Washington that the major media and others did EVERYTHING they could to remind us of the negatives of Harold Washingtron including the fact that Harold Washington had spent time in jail, and today there will those who move with a passion to remind us of the negatives of Carol Moseley Braun, and I am glad that we rejected that strategy against Harold and that we reject it against Carol.

    "Harold chose Carol" to be his Floor Leader in The State Legislature and then as the first women to be elected as Assistant Majority Leader; and "Harold chose Carol" to be on his 1987 reelection ticket; and 23 years later we are in a position to elect the first Black Mayor since Harold and I am suggesting "Harold To Carol." Harold presented his credentials to the entire city and despite his credentials, people STILL promoted his negatives as to why they chose to support Jane Byrne and Richard Daley, but he started with the securing of the base community in which he lived, and today Carol has done the same thing, and despite her legendary and politically historic credentials, I KNOW the despite them, there will be this negative spin and why Blacks can and will support other candidates. I have personally witnessed the many Whites, Latinos, Arabs, Asians, Women, and others that have been coming forward to support Carol with NO MAJOR MEDIA ATTENTION but the process for her to secure that Black voter base that she comes from is now a major political
    and media frenzy that she did not create.

    NOBODY from the mainstream media or others publicly attacked The Chicago Defender when they issued a front page call for Davis, Meeks and Braun to unite around one, and now that they did unitie around one, Braun is attacked for trying to prove to her core community that she is now the best qualified?

    I am not just a "participant" in this process, but a veteran "player" in this process. I aint mad about anybody who wants to promote their feelins in this process and glad that I have the direct history to offer mine as well.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    Besr blog of the century.....You touch on every reason why we should vote for the best candidate, we have to move forward into the future and make our voices heard in a different arena. We got to get past having the Jesse Jackson, the Danny Davis, and the pastors of the world speaking for us, we are all fairly educated people who can read and make our own decisions on who will serve Chicago as a hold and not just the south side or the north side or the Hispanic community, but someone who does not look at color. The article was well written keep up the good work.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    I guess way back when Jackson, Davis and CMB were young there might have been a reasonable argument for a black candidate. Today it's just nonsense. I hope Barack Obama comes to town and campaigns for Emanuel.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    Brian, thank you for having the courage to publish such an intelligent post. As a staff member of the Patricia Watkins campaign, we've regularly been grappling with this issue regarding a "consensus" candidate. It is disappointing that so many of the discussions in this election have centered around who should be in the race, instead of who could serve Chicago's citizens in the greatest capacity. These conversations would properly prepare voters to make a truly educated decision come February.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    Well you made some point in your discussion but it time to make a clean break from the pass here what William Dock Walls says....Chicago as the World

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    yes that was sad he dropped out because I'm pretty clear she won't get my vote, I'm leaning Rahm now, because I just don't see this women making our city grow and improve schools jobs etc. sorry you need a strong leader to get Chicago working, I don't see her doing it! I liked Davis, but wasn't sure about him either because I don't vote due to race!

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    Vote for the "best" candidate? They all stink. All of them are Daley bootlickers. Nothing will change- Daley will still run the show behind the scenes. Also, you mention that Rahm is the "white" candidate. Is Israel in Europe? No, I didn't think so. Not that it matters to me- I think Harold was our best mayor. But these clowns? No way.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    I have been reading the comments with interest and wanted to add my own. I am an African American woman and I am insulted that Carol Mosley Braun or any candidate thinks anyone should vote for a candidate based on race. If a white person said this we would be up in arms and demand that they withdraw from the race. We know that of course, there are candidates that feel this way, but my vote is not going to be determined by the color of the skin of the candidate but by their qualifications and unfortunately I do not feel Braun is qualified. I will weigh my position on issues against the position of the candidates and their ability to articulate a plan of action as well as my belief in their ability to carry out that plan of action. I do believe in the strength of numbers but if everyone had voted based on race in the past presidential election we would still be waiting on our first African American president. It was a coalition of like minded people that swept Obama into office and it will be a coalition of like minded people, I hope, that will elect the next mayor of Chicago. This statement alone from Braun and anyone else for that matter serves only to confirm that neither she or they are qualified to hold the office of mayor of Chicago.

  • Her stance is insulting to every voter, regardless of race. Chicago's voters trusted Barack Obama with the nation's nuclear codes, but she thinks Chicago's voters can't sort out who will keep the streets plowed without reference to the racial troubles of the past.

  • I'm encouraged to hear criticisms of the "us versus everyone else" approach that is gaining momentum in this City race, but unfortunately it would appear that Dr. King's efforts toward racial harmony has been replaced by group mentality. This is not in the best interests of Chicago and all of its citizens.

  • Herb, you are still part of the problem. I would love to hear your summary of what an African-American mayor would do differently than a non-African American mayor would. I'll bet the only thing you could articulate is that he/she would hire more African Americans in the administration, just as other ethnicities have done in the past in a "take care of our own" mentality. Just be honest about it. Listening to Braun and Davis speak at the homogenous rally last week, that's exactly what they plan to do.

  • I'd have more respect for the black "leaders" if they'd chosen Patricia Val Pelt Watkins as their consensus candidate.

  • The "problem" is not not now nor ever has been me. The problem has always been and remains white racism, or more precisely, white supremacy. Start at any point on the socio-political and economic scale. Do I need to catalogue and point out the continuing and glaring injustices blacks suffer in this city and in this country? Or should I presume that those very real "problems" will be addressed and solved by any given leader, regardles of his or her ethnic background. This is the "color blind" approach to social justice, which conveniently leaves the status quo in place, while denigrating any and all who simply ask, in the best of Chicago tradition, "where's mine?" Look at it this way: Two guys are playing poker for 400 years. One of them has been cheating the whole time. Finally, the cheater decides to stop cheating and start a whole new game. "Great," says the non-cheater. "But, I have one question: what are you gonna do with all those chips?"

  • In reply to HerbInChicago:

    Love the poker analogy.

    Here's the problem: constantly looking at other people's chip stacks and complaining about the cheater isn't going to help me build my stack today. I'll accept your premise that the cheater was cheating for hundreds of years, but TODAY, my job is to increase my chip count so my family can play with more chips tomorrow. I'll get that done by focusing on what I can do to better my position, with the cards dealt on each particular hand. Complaining about how I lost a big hand on a bluff doesn't get me my chips back. However, learning from the hand and the way the bluff was played does.

    Given that the United States is a country of immigrants, there are many people who have recently come to the poker table, buy in, and win big hands and now have big chip stacks, without having sat at the table for 400 years.

    What's stopping me from winning those big hands today?

    Thanks for your comments, Herb. Very much appreciated. I really love the poker metaphor.

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    That doesn't mean you should use a different deck of cards to deal to the man who has been cheated for the next 400 years.

  • In reply to HerbInChicago:

    Thank you everyone for reading and commenting. You all know my opinion from my post, but I particularly appreciate hearing from you who disagree. I completely understand that just because I write something doesn't make it right. So please feel free to keep posting your comments-- they are very much appreciated.

  • In reply to HerbInChicago:

    If JJS does not have the race card, he has nothing. A professional grievance monger is all he is. JJS has done more to hurt the black community than help it. The only reason JJS has a seat at the democrat table is because of the block voting by the black community for the (D's). If this ever stops and I pray it does, JJS will be cast aside. Can someone please tell me what 80 plus years of democrat rule in this city has done for the black community? The most qualified candidate would be one that stopped the cronyism, empowered the people with oh lets see SCHOOL CHOICE, allowed the police to crack down on the gangs/drug pusher's without fear of the brutality/race card players. Lets see this happen. Tell the dubious reverend to take a hike and take the race card with him..

  • In reply to HerbInChicago:

    I like the poker analogy as well. However, it's not a new game if the cheater still holds all the chips. It's just that the Chester has decided to play fair while holding on to all the chips.

  • In reply to Mirage5:

    You can't possibly say he's held on to ALL the chips.

  • Fabulous piece! I have never, nor will I ever, vote for anyone other that who I feel is the best candidate... who, by the way, is very rarely the one who looks 'just like me'.

  • First, to answer the queston; Are Black Chicagoans required to vote for Carol Moseley Braun (because she is Black)? No, we shouldn't. She is obviously NOT the best candidate.

    Which brings us to why was she selected as the concensus "best candidate"? I believe, she was selected as the "fall guy" (or gal in this case).
    I think that Jessie Jackson, Danny Davis, and all the Black "leaders" recognize that Rahm is the heir apparent to the throne, and likely, undefeatable in the election. Therefore, to save face for the drubbing any Black candidate will suffer, they selected a sacrificial lamb to offer the Black constituency.

  • Thank you for this. Excellently written.

  • I personally would NOT vote for Carol Mosely Braun and I am an Africian American. Two main factors is that she has been hiding for so long and no one has mentioned why; it relates to her last official political position and she knows. Second, with Jesse Jackson Sr (JJS) hanging around Chicago's city hall scares me to deaf. JJS has no integrity and no sincerity; he comes across for years as someone wanting the lime light - thank God president Obama has put space between this JJS person. Carol will owe this person (JJS) big time if she could land this mayoral position. I agree with Neil S (Sun-times columnist)she has no real platform and/or trust with Chicagoans, regardless of racist. Who is she to always play the racist card? The nerve of her and Danny D to say the former president cannot come to support Rahm. I would now vote for Rahm or Chico way before this Braun person. Danny D had a better chance but no, they want to listen to JJS out of anyone as to who should run as the black candidate. Look Chicago, you know JJS has no record of sincerity or integrity and should NOT be allowed close to city hall.

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