By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Across the United States in the 2018 election primaries, Black American political leaders are scoring historical victories – changing the conversation and the face of politics.
“Congratulations to gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, Senator Bill Nelson and all our Democratic candidates who won their primaries tonight in Florida,” said Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez following Gillum’s historic victory.
“In a historic victory, Andrew Gillum ran an inspiring campaign on his way to becoming the first African American to win a major-party nomination for governor in the Sunshine State,” Perez said.
The victory in Florida comes as African Americans have continued to stun at the polls with wins by London Breed in San Francisco, Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Gillum in Florida.
It’s also a testament to an unprecedented voter registration drive spearheaded by the NNPA and NAACP which joined to start a voter registration drive aimed at signing up 5 million new Black voters.
The NNPA is a trade organization representing the 220 African American-owned newspapers across the country with a combined 22 million weekly subscribers.
“Democrats came out in record numbers to support an incredible slate of candidates who are committed to fighting for greater access to affordable health care, better public schools, and protecting the environment for Floridians,” Perez said.
The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both tweeted about the Gillum victory.
Sharpton said Gillum stood firm against Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law while Jackson the victory set up an epic general election in November.
“Black American voter turnout in 2018 will be the single-most determinative factor in the upcoming Midterm Elections on November 6, 2018,” said NNPA President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, jr.
“In Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin, a huge Black voter turnout will choose the winners of the elections for governors and members of Congress,” Chavis said.
“This will be our payback national vote for all the injustices and inequalities that confront Black America. We are proud that the Black Press is helping to make this happen profoundly across the nation this year,” he said.
Dorothy Leavell, NNPA’s National Chairman and publisher of the Crusader newspapers in Gary and Chicago, said the victory could signal a political sea change in November.
“The results of yesterday’s voting in Florida which made Andrew Gillum the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida is yet another big victory for African Americans this year. As Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association I applaud the voters in Florida and Mr. Gillum,” Leavell said.
“It’s exciting to see Andrew Gillum becoming the latest Black politician making history in the deep south. It’s also refreshing to see a product of an HBCU school break racial barriers in Florida’s lily-white politics. Our nation has too few people of color heading major governments. I applaud Gillum for his stunning, come-from-behind victory as the Democratic candidate for Florida governor. We look forward to seeing Gillum take it all in the November election and become the first Black governor in Florida’s 173-year history,” Leavell said.
Bobby Henry, publisher of NNPA member The Westside Gazette in Florida, said more work is yet to be done.
“We have one more River to cross. We are certainly proud and elated that brother Gillum has made the first step into Florida’s history and now we have to insure that his which is our’s also journey complete, ” Henry said.
“His election as the first Black governor of Florida is one historical account however the fact that the Democratic Party has not been in control of the Florida legislator for over 20 years is another milestone,” he said.
This is where the Democratic Party will have to unify and pour all that is necessary for Gillum to win this race, Henry added.
“It has yet to come. The possibility is there however we as the voters have to be a part of the making of history,” Henry continued.
“The book has not been completed yet, the preface is done now the story has to be written, record and made known. Let the story continue.”