African Americans make up roughly 13% of the overall population in the United States and have a buying power so strong that it cannot be ignored. While having a strong and consistent buying power in itself is a powerful asset to have, turning that asset into a long-term money maker and wealth generating tool is the only thing that will strengthen the overall position and status of African Americans in this country, especially in the area of politics.
If you have ever read my column, you know that I love movies and television. I often reference a movie or television scene or plot when trying to make a point.
My favorite all-time series of movies, and I just can’t leave out one, is “The Godfather” trilogy. In “The Godfather Part III,” which of course is the third installment of this classic series, there was a valuable lesson that I picked up on that I believe every Black person should pay close attention to.
In the movie, Vincent Mancini-Corleone, who is played by actor Andy Garcia, had become the mentee of aging mafia don Michael Corleone, who is played by veteran screen legend and Academy Award winner Al Pacino. Vincent (Garcia), who is not at all familiar with politics, has a conversation with an Italian mafia kingpin name Don Lucchesi (played by Italian actor Enzo Robutti), and let’s just say that the exchange between the two for me is quite memorable:
Vincent Mancini: Don Lucchesi, you are a man of finance and politics. These things I don’t understand. Don Lucchesi: You understand guns? Vincent Mancini: Yes. Don Lucchesi: Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.
If ever there was a time that Black people needed to fully understand the power of the Black dollar and the need emphasize the importance of putting our money where our true influence is, that time is now. This November 2016 election is by far the most important election I have ever been witness to since I have been here on Earth and it should not be ignored by anyone. With this November election right around the corner, it’s beyond time for Black people to realize their true power and join in with me to create one of the most important movements of this era.
It is time for Black people to “TakeOver the Polls” in every local, state and federal election in this country. Yes! I said, it’s time for us to “TakeOver the Polls” by any means necessary.
But, in order for us to “TakeOver the Polls” effectively, there are several things all of us who choose to participate need to do to make it work and get the results we need.
One of the biggest critiques of many Black organizations, Black activists and movements led by Black people is that there is never any clear vision or objective that leads to an end goal. Bold vision requires bold leadership, but it also requires organization and an agenda that the majority of participants agree on. There are often too many chiefs and not enough Indians, and when those who once desired to be chiefs yield to those who have been given the mantle, they tend to get discouraged, burnt out and frustrated because there has been no direction given or results attained. Many of us become disenchanted and angry, but that changes nothing.
Case in point, I don’t know too many African Americans who haven’t expressed anger and frustration because of the consistent racial profiling incidents and murders of unarmed Black people in this country by law enforcement, but that anger and frustration isn’t stopping the problem. Those law enforcement officials have been empowered to wear that badge and carry those weapons by elected officials, so that means that the only people who can hold them accountable for their actions are…elected officials. We can’t ignore how important this is.
Let’s be honest. There is a reason that the White supremacists who have never viewed Black people as equal human beings, let alone citizens, have sought to keep us from voting, and have done things and committed acts to make voting one of the most difficult things for us to do.
Under Reconstruction in the mid-1800s, many Black men in the South voted, and some who had been slaves were elected to local, and in some cases, national office. By the turn of the 20th century, however, White supremacists, through the efforts of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, were able to reclaim the legislatures in former Confederate states and immediately adopted new constitutions that disenfranchised African American voters. Look it up for yourselves.
Any African American citizen, who attempted to exercise their constitutional right to vote, found themselves running into roadblocks and encountering barriers that were oftentimes insurmountable. These hindrances included things such as literacy tests; poll taxes; legalized clauses that limited voting to only people whose ancestors had voted in the past; and party primary elections that were only limited to White people. This really happened.
So yeah, Black people complained and held peaceful demonstrations like we see now, but nothing really happened until news cameras caught Black people being beaten, unlawfully arrested with bogus charges, hosed, bitten by dogs and met with violent opposition – all because they wanted to vote. For instance, between August 1964 and July 1965, the State of Alabama used 100 different literacy tests to make it difficult for Black people to “study” for the test, and applicants were asked to pick a test at random from a loose-leaf notebook. These actions, caught on camera, helped generate the widespread support needed to help pass several pieces of federal civil rights legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
First and foremost, we have to get as many people registered to vote as possible and explain the importance of voting to them. We also need to let them know who is running and what is at stake. I have been working hard and have joined in with community leaders and activists that are committed to creating a political revolution that far supersedes the November elections, and will carry on beyond November and that reaches down to the local, county and state races as well.
This is just one election, and while I believe it is the most important one in my lifetime, I believe we need to start today by aggressively educating, equipping and empowering our Black youth, our voting age adults and our senior citizens, by giving them the information they need to not only get registered, but to ensure their voices are heard loud and clear at the polls.
So let’s get to work everybody, and let’s “TakeOver the Polls” this November and beyond.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at email@example.com