By Hollis Wormsby, Jr.
Ever since John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, the black community has been inextricably bound to the Democratic Party. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves as a Republican, but the first significant relief from the Jim Crow South came from Democrats and the Democratic Party has had a stranglehold on the black vote ever since.
But just like in personal relationships there comes a time to evaluate if the deal is still working for both sides. This doesn’t mean either side has necessarily done any wrong, it just means over time one party is no longer meeting the needs of the other.
In today’s South, the Democratic Party has become all but irrelevant. In Alabama out of nine elected members of Congress and Senators, Democrat Terri Sewell is the only black elected official.
The Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia state legislatures all have Republican super majorities. This means black people in at least these three southern states have a difficult time getting laws passed. In Montgomery, AL, Republicans set the agenda.
At the national level the Democratic Party controls the House but where are the issues of importance that face the black community? President Trump and the Republican party delivered for their base, including super wealthy donors, with the largest single tax cut in American history. Black voters have been delivering for the Democratic Party since the mid-’60s and what meaningful gains do we have to show for it? Unemployment is up, crime is up, poverty is up and what isn’t up is any national or federal movement to address any of these issues.
I am certainly not suggesting that we all run out and become Republicans, because if anything they have made clear they do not care about issues important to the black community.
I think back to the summer of 1984, when Jesse Jackson was running for president and ran as an independent on the Rainbow Party Ticket and wanted both parties to come to him on what they were willing to do to secure the black vote. I think we need a Rainbow Party of the 21st Century and if the Republican Party or the Democratic Party doesn’t want to give the community their attention do what a lover, who doesn’t seem to love you anymore would do — find someone else to meet your needs. Or at least that’s the way I see it.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)