July 17, 2018
The question on the floor was civic engagement. But the real question was: How does the black community stop electing people who proceed to ignore the black community’s interests?
These were some of the answers laid out by Black Political Caucus chair and longtime education activist Arthur Griffin, and SAFE Coalition N.C. strategist and longtime Charlotte organizer Robert Dawkins.:
– Elected officials must be prepared to work 80 hours a week, be out and about, and meet constantly with people who will not come forward on their own.
– Keeping elected officials accountable means engaging with then constantly, not just at election time.
– Gaining influence requires much more than an emotional slogan, and ends up requiring a detailed plan, and working that plan over a long period of time.
In short, the answers are a call for much greater sacrifice than many Charlotteans have historically been willing to make. No wonder the city has a reputation for being merely reactive, as Dawkins put it. No wonder the big issues are never settled.
For many in the audience it was a stimulating discussion. Will it be a turning point? The speakers, no doubt, would say it depends not on who heard the message, but who acts on it.
In the video below, the presentations begin at minute 12:07. The Q&A begins at minute 40:45.