Opinion: Black Leadership Should Have Rallied Behind a Single Candidate

By Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans

Unfortunately, Michigan State Senator Adam Hollier has lost his bid to represent the 13th Congressional District of Michigan. But what is more unfortunate is that this didn’t have to happen. If Wayne County’s diverse Black leadership of faith-based, business, educational, political, community groups and grassroots organizations had united our support behind a single consensus candidate, rather than allowing eight Black candidates to enter the race and duke it out amongst themselves (thereby fracturing our voting power at such a critical time), we would not be in this position.

It is a critical time because we now effectively have no Black congressional representation in Washington – unless one or both of the Trump-backed Black Republican candidates wins in the general election. Such a travesty would essentially be the same result as having no Black representation at all, only worse. Now, we are able to see and feel the effects of the recent re-districting efforts – and its stinging result.

This could be the first time that Detroit and/or Michigan doesn’t have Black Congressional representation since 1955. Disenfranchised.

Although we had the power to prevent this, we were unable to unify to use it. And this is what we are left with.

At this stage of my political career, I must admit I’m disappointed that too many of us still have not learned the importance of working together and how much more effective a unified front can be in promoting our common interests and in serving our respective communities. Ever since I was first elected to become Wayne County Executive in 2014, I have nurtured a desire to use my position as best I could to solidify Black leadership and Black voting power throughout the State of Michigan. Through my organization, the Urban Alliance of Michigan, I have reached out to Black elected officials across the state to come together and work toward a common agenda that would benefit all our constituents.

As an elected official who represents all Wayne County residents, I feel it necessary to add that this is not about granting priority to any group over another, nor should this be misconstrued as anti-white or any other race. This is simply an acknowledgment of a political reality that still exists today whether we want to acknowledge it or not; historically disenfranchised groups, which certainly includes African Americans, are much more likely to have their voices heard and their needs addressed when they are represented by someone from their own community.

Another issue we must address is overwhelming voter apathy and the attack on voting rights of today’s culture. In this election, according to unofficial results from the Wayne County Clerk’s Office, only 21% of all registered voters cast a ballot, either via absentee or at the polls. So, we must develop creative outreach methods, do a better job of educating voters, effectively connect with our youth and make access to voting easy.

But what’s done is done, and I suppose we can all hope for the best while we continue to do the work necessary to improve the lives of our constituents. And I remain hopeful that as we move forward, we will internalize the lessons learned from the result of today’s election and use those lessons to make better decisions that will benefit all of us in the future.

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