Something extraordinary happened Tuesday in Charlotte.
not talking about the election of Anthony Foxx as the Qcity’s first
black mayor since Harvey Gantt. I’m talking about what happened in the
11 city council races.
You probably won’t read it stated this
plainly in the mainstream headlines, but eight of the 11 council
members elected yesterday are Democrats – and five of those eight
Democrats are black.
Add Mayor-elect Foxx to the mix and half of the city’s 12 elected leaders will soon be African American.
before in the history of Charlotte has the city had such a huge
Democratic majority, or elected so many African Americans to lead.
35 percent, the city’s proportion of black voters is more than a third
higher than when Gantt was first elected in 1983, the Charlotte
Observer noted today.
So what does this mean for a Sunbelt city struggling to reinvent itself after the meltdown of its signature banking industry?
Readers of the Observer online already are postings comments predicting that Charlotte is fast becoming the next urban slum.
“Charlotte’s always wanted to be like Atlanta. Now it is. I’m so glad I moved out!” said one Observer reader.
“Can’t wait to see public housing in Myers Park & Dilworth, hehehe,” said another.
The racist sentiment aside, I suspect Charlotte will be just fine under its new leadership.
But that said, a word of caution:
of us who started out in segregated schools recall parents and teachers
who drilled into our heads constantly that if we as African Americans
were to succeed, we’d have to be smarter and perform better than our
white counterparts. We grew up knowing that a large chunk of society
expected us to fail, and we found strength and determination in that
Sadly, there is an element in Charlotte that would
delight in the failure of our newly elected city leaders. Thus, we
cannot allow failure to happen.
As Charlotte becomes browner –
and yes, that trend will continue – we need leaders with vision and
integrity, people who dare to imagine but also know the importance of
We cannot allow our city to get caught up in
the types of political scandals, bickering and fiscal irresponsibility
that have plagued Detroit and other urban centers.
election last night, Foxx was asked by the media if he saw Tuesday’s
vote, with its Democratic swing, as a mandate from voters.
don’t think in terms of mandates,” he said. “There’s a great amount of
opportunity there, but there’s a great amount of expectations, too.
When you have that kind of majority, you’re expected to get thing done.”
Words to govern by.