Skip to main content

<small>Posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 12:22 am</small>


Now we have the Coffee Party which I suppose is a liberal counterpart to the Tea Party that emerged in the Washington, DC area by folks led by Annabel Park a documentary film maker who was horrified by the ugly, menacing and anti-government spirit of the Tea Party crowd that emerged to disrupt the flow of civil discussion about important issues. I’ve been asking, where are the folks who voted for Barack Obama, believing in Hope and Change and pinning for a new post-Bush, post-Conservative America.

Well, many of the ground troops of the Obama movement that were responsible for its grass roots organizing were young adults who went back to school, back to their professional desks or somewhere back to their normal pursuits, but away from politics. In their de-mobilization, they left the field open to the crazies who have mounted a movement not designed to be a force for change, but for the status quo and even for retrogression, wanting to “take back America” from a future they fear. Organizing for Change, the organization created as the repository of the Obama campaign, has largely been ineffective in my evaluation and David Plouffe, its head and Obama’s campaign manager, has recently gone into the White House.

So, what is developing is a discussion at the level of communities across the country about the role of government and the Tea Party and now the Coffee Party are instruments of civic organizing in this process. The Republican party seems to be attempting to grab hold of the Tea Party movement and turn it into an election day force against Democrats vulnerable to elections in this cycle, At this point, the Coffee party has not come that far and the Democratic party has not made its move.

Where does this put Blacks? There is a healthy discussion going on in the black community about the role of President Obama and his responsibility, or the lack of it, to the Black community but with the exception of Tavis Smiley for all the folks who believe that they have to make him accountable to a black agenda, they have not yet put a mechanism on the ground to do it.

There has been a long discussion about the efficacy of a Black political party and many years ago, I joined Ron Daniels and others in an attempt to create one. The irony of that experiment was while half of the people attracted to the idea wanted it to serve as a power-base for elections, others wanted to only exist as a grass roots organizing tool. It eventually split apart along those lines.

Today, it is clear, however, that beyond the general discussion about accountability, there needs to be not only a place where you get down to the “nuts and bolts” about exactly who should be accountable about what, but how to develop effective methodologies of tactics and strategies to achieve it. Thus, whether you call it a party or a posse doesn’t matter, the point is that there is a necessity to mobilize to achieve the ends people are talking about.

A Black party could enable the discussion about accountability to focus on the cabinet agencies where the Federal budget exist to achieve some of the things needed by the black community. Some of the specific programs being rolled out around jobs and a new focus on home foreclosure and etc. look good, but others such as “race to the top” as an educational program looks questionable to me – and the issue is that few of these programs across the board have been developed with the vigorous input and engagement of those for whom the programs are supposed to be designed.

A Black party could also monitor and engage local initiatives more effectively. Where the rubber meets the road is in the local communities and there, mayors, county officials, state legislators and others presumably have some idea of what it takes to make black communities whole, what resources are addressed to that task and what is lacking. A mobilized force could assist in this task of projecting community needs and monitoring whether or to what extent they are met.

What I am suggesting has been happening to some extent with the vigilance of our Civil Rights organizations, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and the action of progressive black officials at the national, state and local levels.

However, there should be a greater role for citizen engagement and a Black party mechanism could be the key. What we are witnessing is the rush of media attention to these movements, a dynamic that gives them power and places our interests farther and farther into the background. Mobilizing would give us the power to regain the footing to address the truth of our condition.

Dr. Ron Walters is a Political Analysts and Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book is: The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press).

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Professor Walters certainly has 'been there, done that'.

It is clear the 'divide' begins even at the very early point of what the name of any organization addressing the issues of African Americans, should be.

I don't believe a political party for this purpose is viable.

Too many, and too diverse a selection of, issues.

A PAC would allow the organizers to specify the focus of the organization.

I say that because the organizers are likely to be the ones who bring the 'seed money'.

Those who subscribe to the focus can join.

Those who do not, will not..., and should not be allowed.

Others can form other organizations.

Hopefully, they would all be working to the benefit of African America.

More than one is not bad.

If I had the money.........

Oh well.


Jim Chester
I agree James.  The Right and the Media would have a field day with it being called The Black Party in the first place.  It would be mischaracterized by the right in the media and the media would be more than happy to get the ratings they would receive by airing the misinformation. 

I think that a Peoples party would be more in order considering that it was they people of America that elected President Obama, it was people of all races, all incomes, all walks of life here in American that elected our president, so it should be those same people to come out in support of President Obama and in opposition to racist America trying to camouflauge itself under to guise of 'tea party.
I think that a Peoples party would be more in order considering that it was they people of America that elected President Obama, it was people of all races, all incomes, all walks of life here in American that elected our president, so it should be those same people to come out in support of President Obama and in opposition to racist America trying to camouflauge itself under to guise of 'tea party.---sunnubian

I hear you, but....

I think the focus of the organization should be clearly on the issues effecting African America.

A political party would have difficulty doing that...which objection from all quarters..., including from African Americans.

There is a very large segment among us the truly believes we cannot do anything for ourselves without including Mr. Charlie, and Mrs Ann.

Therefore, I offered a PAC as the structure.

It's your money.

You do what you want.


Jim Chester
Okay ... I re-read this article - again - because y'all seem to understand what he is talking about.  And me ... I seem to continue to end up mired in confusion about his intent. 

I can't figure out if what he's talking about would be best served by a PAC, a political party, or some sort of (non-political) Black-focused committee/council/think tank/organization of 'leaders' or "Talented 10th"-type people (for lack of a better description at the moment).  These are three entirely different things which would have different directions, focuses and actions ... even if the goal were essentially the same.

But I do know that "The Black Party" sounds totally inappropriate to me for whatever he's talking about ... and throws me off from really getting whatever it is he is trying to say.

I do get (what I think is) his basic premise of the need for direction, organization and mobilization .... and, of course, I couldn't agree more.  But, as with the example he himself presented of the organization he tried to start (with Ron Daniels), political actions and non-political efforts cannot/should not try to be lead using the same methods.  They can of course be used as a complement to one another when the time and necessity is right for them to interact ... but they need to be understood to be two different things with a focus on accomplishing their individual missions.

The diversity of thought and perspective among our people would dictate that some of us would be attracted to the different methods and directions that each type of these different organization could provide.  Dividing our individual strengths and ideas among each of these different operations would, IMO, bring together he kind of strength we need to be able to harness the kind of empowerment that he's talking about.
Last edited by EbonyRose
Mr. Walters was part of the panel that convened at Tavis' recent forum on "the Black Agenda" that aired on C-SPAN last night.  He discussed in greater detail his ideas on a "Black Party" and at the end, essentially said that the 'naming' of such a group was not nearly as important as what the 'mission' of it should be.

After his explanation, I understood his perspective .. and couldn't have agreed with him more.

Unfortunately, it still seemed like he was talking about what would be a combination of a PAC, a political party and a grassroots organization.  Which I still believe would never work.  However, I do believe that there is an urgent need for each type of these three different approaches ... and that each, individually, could be brought together to make one powerful process for the betterment of African America.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.