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The rise of the new Black leadership

Reginald J. Clyne | 12/25/2013, 9 a.m.

In the old days, a trio of women were the Black leadership: Barbara Carey-Shuler, Congresswomen Meek and Athalie Range. They were courageous, outspoken and clearly in charge, and they reigned for decades. All of them have now retired. To their credit, the trio developed young Black leadership. From this group came Congressman Kendrick Meek, Commissioner Spence-Jones, Commissioner Edmonson, Oscar Braynon, Ronda Vangates, Cynthia Stafford and a myriad of others. All of a sudden, it is our young leaders who are suddenly in charge: Senator Dwight Bullard, Senator Oscar Braynon, Jr., Representative Barbara Watson, Representative Sharon Pritchett, Representative Cynthia Stafford, Representative Daphne Campbell, County Commissioner Jean Monestime, Mayor Lucie Tondreau, Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Vice Mayor Alexandra Davis and now City Commissioner Hardemon. (If I did not include someone in their 30’s to 50’s who was recently elected, please forgive me). What is refreshing about this new leadership is that they are progressive, hardworking, scandal free, and not just taking up space. They are legislators who actually push to pass bills and the commissioners and mayors are actually fighting for their communities. I expect all of them to come under attack — Tondreau is getting her fair share of attacks early, but to her credit, she ignores it and keeps on working for her community. As I have repeatedly stated, good Black leaders are attacked, especially if they are effective. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are investigated at 10 times the rates of their white colleagues.

In contrast to the hardworking young leaders, we still have a lot of dead wood. People in power, who love to be honored at banquets, but do little, if anything with the power that they are given. I have observed political leaders who hold office in Tallahassee and never pass a bill or worse yet even try to pass a bill. In school boards, city councils and commissions, I have watched people in power not take any proactive position that advances or even helps the Black community, Black businesses, or Black government employees. Their presence and failure to act, emboldens those working against the Black community. A classic example is Broward County Commissioner Sharief, who has voted against a plan that would lead to more diversity on the Broward County Commission; she has let weak ordinances that barely protect black businesses get weakened further. I guess she can justify this by becoming the first Black Mayor of Broward County. The shame is that her ego and desire for her own advancement has come at the cost of Black businesses and the overall communities need for diversity. If a Black person votes against diversity it provides cover to the white people who are against diversity. The theory being that the anti-diversity coalition cannot be racist, because a minority supports their position. The attacks on affirmative action, and set asides all involved Black people (or other minorities) who voiced positions in support of striking down affirmative action. It is my hope that one day, we can proudly look upon all of our leaders and state that they are all working in the best interests of their constituents.

Reginald J. Clyne, a veteran South Florida attorney, and his firm, was recently acquired by the Florida law firm of Lydecker Diaz in Miami.