During the recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference which ended last weekend at the convention center in Northwest, one of the most electrifying moments of the week was undoubtedly when three African-American gubernatorial candidates, Ben Jealous (Maryland), Andrew Gillum (Florida) and Stacey Abrams (Georgia) raised joined hands and stood center stage in solidarity as the audience in a room filled to capacity whistled, shouted out messages of support and applauded. The sound was deafening as the room violently shook for what seemed like forever.
But it was the look on the three candidates’ faces that told the real story. Each had smiles that enveloped the entire room — smiles, if not accompanying tears, which matched those clearly visible on the multitude of faces of people who had come to hear them speak about their plans and dreams for breaking the glass ceiling.
Many people took out their cellphones, eager to capture the moment. You could feel the energy in the air and while it may not have been equivalent to the emotional surge that overwhelmed millions of Americans, Blacks in particular, when the official word came that Barack Obama had fought off the naysayers and his opponent to emerge victorious as America’s first Black president, it was pretty close.
Clearly, none of the three candidates will be able to defeat their respective Republican opponents without the full participation of the voting electorate, as well as a respectable amount of contributed dollars that will help them remain competitive throughout the remaining weeks of their campaigns.
Still, with Jealous, Abrams and Gillum all standing on the precipice of making history, we wonder if America — if our fellow citizens all eligible to vote in these three states — can honestly say that they want the best “person” to win and will cast their vote accordingly — without skin color being a factor in their decision?
We have no doubts as to whether each within this trio of gubernatorial hopefuls is qualified for the job. We only hope and pray that when the voters mark their ballots, that they will focus on the qualifications and platform rather than the ethnicity of the candidates before them.
We offer our congratulations to our trio for making it to the “big dance.”
What a night it will be if the voters send three African Americans to occupy the governor’s mansions in three states that once endorsed and supported the practice of slavery?