It has been 32 years since Chicago had a mayor of African decent. Harold Washington was elected in 1983 and passed away while in office in 1987. Since Mayor Washington, Chicago has only had two other people as mayor; Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel.
On April 7th, 2015, there is an mayoral election in the Windy City between incumbent Rahm Emmanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County Commissioner. There are 700,000 registered African American voters in the City of Chicago, yet in the general election this past February only 150,000 Black voters showed up at the polls.
With so much on the line, will Black voters turnout to the polls to help elect the next mayor of Chicago, will they vote against the incumbent or will they sit this election out and if so why?
On Wednesday, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. joined Roland Martin and the “NewsOne Now” Straight Talk panel to discuss low Black voter turnout in Chicago and what is being done to encourage African American voters to go to the polls.
It has been reported that many Black voters in Chicago are skeptical of voting for Garcia because they feel he will do more for Latinos than African Americans.
Rev. Jackson addressed this during Wednesday’s edition of “NewsOne Now saying, “When Harold [Washington] did run, he said he could only win if he had big Black voter turnout and 50 plus one percent Latino turnout.” He added, “We’ve got 80 plus one percent with their vote. Clearly they’ve stood with us and we should stand with them.”
Jackson went on to say, Emmanuel has helped African Americans by “Closing 50 public schools and 50 drug stores have closed, 75 grocery stores have closed — he drove us into no trauma centers in the Black community.”
As a result of the issues Rev. Jackson cited, he and a group of Black Pastors have thrown their support behind “Chuy” Garcia.
“Where are the national Black Civil Rights leaders? Martin asked Rev. Jackson. “If folks are interested in turning out the presidential election, yet mayoral elections absolutely matter, are you seeing individuals traveling to Chicago? What is happening on the ground? Are other organizations doing get out the vote rallies? I’m not saying vote for endorse Emmanuel or Garcia, but are Black Civil Rights organizations pushing turnout in Chicago and if not, what the hell is going on?”
Rev. Jackson responded, “We see a steady rollout of people, some of who did not vote in the primary, who felt conflicted at that time, they are in fact going very public for Garcia and we think that we have momentum.”
“NewsOne Now” panelist Stephanie Brown James , CEO of Vestige Strategies, LLC, told Martin the election in Chicago is showing the nation a trend that we will continue to see.
James also said, “African Americans are voting on the issues, they’re not voting about the candidates. They’re looking at the track records of candidates to see what have you done for us lately. With Rahm Emmanuel closing the schools … Black people are fed up and we’ve see that at the polls.”
Watch Roland Martin, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stephanie Brown James, CEO of Vestige Strategies and Republican Political and Communication Strategist, Paris Dennard Political discuss the low Black voter turnout in Chicago in the video audio clip below.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.