AJC and Democratic Party Exclude Black Candidates from GA US Senate Debate over MLK Holiday Weekend
Commentary: By Maynard Eaton
What would Martin Luther King Jr. say?
As Georgia and the United States paused to commemorate his 91st birthday and the MLK Jr. National Holiday over the weekend, Georgia Democrats hosted a candidate forum excluding all the African-American candidates running for United States Senate to defeat David Perdue.
Making matters worse, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), who is aware of the Black candidates in the race, published yet another article without mentioning any of them. Sadly, the erasure of the voices of Black people is an all too common unfortunate recurring theme in contemporary American politics.
But how is this possible in Georgia where African Americans will make up more than 60% of the voters who will determine the Democratic nominee intent on taking down Donald Trump’s henchman, Republican Senator David Perdue?
Shouldn’t the Democratic Party and the AJC want voters to know about and be able to hear from all the candidates in the race? So why are they disregarding the participation and coverage of the black candidates in the race?
And what about the white Democrats in the race? Don’t they have an obligation to inclusion and fair elections?
Sarah Amico Riggs, the former Republican businesswoman who sought bankruptcy to avoid labor costs and billions in employee pension benefits is quoted as saying “the Senate was supposed to be the grownups in the room.” Why, then, were the “grownups” in Sunday’s room — who were all white — snubbing the Black candidates from public forums?
Teresa Tomlinson, another former “Republican” who proudly boasts that she speaks “fluent Republican” (i.e.. the impeached language of Donald Trump) called herself an expert in bringing “function to dysfunctional systems.” But Maya Dillard-Smith, arguably the most qualified candidate in the race, and a Black woman, finds Tomlinson’s rhetoric “nothing more than a disingenuous bait and switch.”
“In Georgia, where the last election for governor was won by a Black woman Democrat but stolen by Republicans, is Teresa ready to fix this dysfunctional process that’s rejecting the Black candidates for Senate? Or is she simply complicit in a broken system of exclusion that stands to benefit her?”, muses Dillard-Smith.
Jon Ossoff, who lost a congressional district race where he threw away $50 million said he is “taking no voter for granted.” But isn’t that exactly what he is doing by participating in forums that exclude Black candidates, especially Black women?
Clarkston’s “Hipster Mayor,” Ted Terry called on GOP incumbent Perdue to “[hold a town hall!” leading some to ask, is Ted more comfortable debating another white man than the Black Democrats in the race who were omitted from Sunday’s conversation? Dillard-Smith said she welcomes a Democrat town hall because, “in a debate about the issues, I win.”
In the spirit of inclusion and MLK’s 1968 Poor Peoples’ Campaign, over the weekend Dillard-Smith released a provocative campaign video addressing the King Center’s 2020 Vision – The Fierce Urgency of Now.
And, while Dillard-Smith’s four white opponents for the Democratic nomination were debating in Dunwoody on Sunday and talking to white voters, she was worshiping with the members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia. In front of a predominately Black congregation of 47,000 people in the sanctuary and online, Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant told his congregation. “Maya Dillard-Smith is a ferociously bad sista” running for United States Senate.
Dillard-Smith is clear, “I’m not taking shots at other Democrats. I’m calling for unity in achieving our common goal — the defeat of David Perdue.” However, Dillard-Smith says, “the exclusion of Black candidates is certainly not the way forward — though, I’m here all day, every day for a fair fight!”
MAYNARD EATON is an accomplished 8-time Emmy Award winning TV News reporter and 40-year political and civil rights journalist, who is now Executive Editor of Newsmakers Live/Journal and The Maynard Report. He is also a contributing editor at YBE Magazine, a journalism professor at Clark Atlanta University and President of Eaton Media Group.