In last week’s column, I was highly critical of those who are dismissive of Black History Month. Since that column was published, I’ve heard from a number who agreed with what I wrote. While every other group’s ethnic heritage is celebrated, when it comes to black folks, we are being told to disregard ours. Amazing!
As many of you who read this column are aware, I try to pick a constant underlying theme. Last year, my mantra was “Pay Attention, Chicago.” This year’s theme was supposed to be “Take No Prisoners.” But I am forced to amend it. So I will alternate that theme with “Every Day is Black History.”
Anyone reading this column has lived through one of the greatest historical moments in black history, American history and our lifetime. That was the election and inauguration of President Barack Obama. But if you haven’t been paying close attention to local politics lately, another historical event is occurring. And that is the complete disregard of the first runner up in the lieutenant governor’s race: Art Turner.
Now, there is no hard-and-fast rule that Turner should automatically become the nominee after coming in second place to Scott Lee Cohen. In truth, I liked the idea that the position should first be offered to Dan Hynes seeing that he and Quinn had a neck-in-neck photo finish to their race. But once Hynes turned down the opportunity, I expected the next name out of Quinn’s mouth to be Turner. The reasons: Turner did come in second place; Quinn used every black politician in town to robocall my house to get the “black vote;” and an immediate, decisive decision would help allay what Harold Washington had said, and which still lingered in the forefront of my mind, regarding Pat Quinn.
Is there anyone who can forget the commercial that ran on television, featuring a vintage interview with the late Mayor Washington? The reaction to that commercial quickly brought every black politician out the woodwork to call my home and urge me to vote for Quinn. I didn’t. But as I watched the debacle following Cohen’s resignation, Washington’s words rang in my head like an omen: “Pat Quinn is a totally and completely undisciplined individual who thinks this government is nothing but a large easel by which he can do his (public relations) work. He almost created a shambles in that department.”
No truer words could have ever been stated. After getting turned down by Hynes to be his running mate, Quinn then goes after Tammy Duckworth to be his running mate, completely disregarding Turner. Huh? What is Art Turner, the “Invisible Negro”?
Admittedly, Quinn’s running-mate selection will be made by the Democratic Central State Committee. But Quinn does have influence in letting them know who he would like to see on the ticket with him. Had Turner come in first, the decision would have been a given and no further discussion needed. But he didn’t and now we have to watch as Governor Quinn-Ain’t-Our-Friend turns the process into a shambles by mulling which person gets to be the next candidate for the office. His finger-pointing at first this one and now that leads me to conclude his political astuteness is lacking. Without the black vote – and our vote shouldn’t be a guaranteed “given” – Quinn can’t win. As someone else stated to me this week, “If Quinn’s running mate ain’t black, he can’t go back!”
It is also interesting to hear that several black elected officials are willing to support a white candidate from downstate to “balance the ticket.” Yet where is the reciprocity to support a black candidate to also “balance the ticket”? And though Turner is from the Chicago area, he does own a home in Springfield. Doesn’t that count?