Political ‘Renaissance’ for Blacks in Brooklyn

Public Advocate-elect Letitia James (center) and City Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo. (Photo via Ken Thompson's campaign Facebook page)

Letitia James (center) and Laurie Cumbo (right of James) join other supporters in rallying for Ken Thompson. They would go on to become public advocate, city councilwoman and Brooklyn district attorney, respectively. (Photo via Ken Thompson’s campaign Facebook page)

The results from Election Day a few weeks ago could suggest a “renaissance” or “renewal” of African-Americans in politics springing up in Brooklyn, reports The Brooklyn Ink‘s Lewis Kenley.

Gwendolyn Brooks, 89, a longtime Prospect Heights resident, was happily surprised at the 2013 African-American results. “I remember when this sort of thing would never happen for someone of color. African-Americans were thought of as labor,” Brooks said. And, she added, “All of them are from Brooklyn, which has always taken a backseat to Harlem in producing leaders. But now we are the new renaissance.”

Vivian White, another Prospect Heights resident, thinks “renaissance” is too strong a word. But, “ever since the Barclays Center was built,” White said, “there has been a renewal in Brooklyn communities.”

Brooks added:

“This city’s diversity helps people make more decisions other than race.”

In a borough where 35.8 percent of the residents are African-American, this year’s elections saw community wins from City Council seats to citywide positions, which included Public Advocate-elect Letitia James (currently a Brooklyn councilwoman), Brooklyn Borough President-elect Eric Adams, and Brooklyn District Attorney-elect Ken Thompson.

When it comes to African-American politics, Shirley Chisholm is deemed the trailblazer. The Brooklynite was the first black woman elected to Congress in 1969, and was also the first African-American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1972.

“Shirley Chisholm started it all, and it would be remiss to not bring up her name any time a person of color wins an election in this city,” Brooklyn resident James Thomas said. “She gave the idea for blacks to think about holding a government position other than janitor or maid.”

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