There is a deft move being made on the backs of blacks. Blacks in Congress want to people to think that they come to Washington to take care of business for the race. But the truth is that African-Americans’ preferences and politics play second fiddle to Democratic Party politics.
Take the case of Georgia Rep. John Lewis asserting that President-elect Donald Trump is “an illegitimate president.” While mainstream media plays it as if Trump has assailed a venerable civil righter, it actually is a crass political move on the part of the House of Representatives’ fifth-most powerful member.
Trump can’t make inroads among blacks. But both blacks and whites view Lewis, 78, as “one of the most courageous persons the civil rights movement ever produced.” John Lewis makes a living as a politician, civil rights leader, pastor and writer. As a former member of the Atlanta City Council and decades as representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, his life and career has been in civil rights leadership — and politics.
Lewis, who was born in 1940 in Troy, Alabama, but has resided in Hotlanta since his early civil rights days, maintains a comfortable $250,000 annual lifestyle pastoring and writing. He made the gambit to attack Trump from his vantage of holding the safest seat in America. A safe seat is a seat in a legislative body regarded as fully secure, for either a certain political party, the incumbent representative personally, or a combination of both. In such cases, there is very little chance of a seat changing hands because of the political leanings of the electorate in the constituency and/or the popularity of the incumbent member (Lewis has been re-elected 14 times and has dropped below 70 percent of the vote only once).
Lewis’ 5th Congressional District includes the northern three-quarters of Atlanta and much of central Fulton and DeKalb counties and the northern third of Clayton. It includes Buckhead and the Ritz-Carlton Bankhead and towns of Rex, Lenox Square and Lakewood Heights. The district is 58.3 percent black, 51.2 percent female, with a median household income of $40,708 and a home median value of $142,900.
Almost 750,000 people live there. The population is 58 percent African-American, one-third white and 5 percent Asian. The 5th Congressional District is 31st out of 436 other congressional districts in income below the poverty line. The largest single chunk of employed residents in Lewis’s district, about half of the civilian work force, worked as “management, business, science, and arts occupations.” About one in six families in the district lived in poverty in the previous year. The same dataset estimated the national rate to be about one family in 9. The unemployment rate in the district was about 8.2 percent in Census Bureau estimates last year for the American Community Survey’s one-year measurement.
The district includes Atlanta’s downtown and main business district, and includes the headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company in Midtown and Delta Air Lines near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It also covers the campuses of Georgia Tech and Emory University as well as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many of the city’s major cultural and arts institutions. The largest single sector employing people in the Fifth District is construction (12 percent), followed by “management and remediation services” (11.9 percent) and “management of companies and enterprises” (11.8).
Make no mistake, John Robert Lewis fired the first shot across the bow when he called Trump “illegitimate.” And so far, it is Lewis who has won the day (his book sales saw a huge spike after Trump “attacked” him on Twitter).
Lewis’s heart is well, but it would do him well to help “build inner-city America” by joining Steve Harvey and getting on board with Trump’s team.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.