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Minority voices in New York are demanding long overdue change in leadership of the City Council, which has always had a White speaker. This lack of diversity is a shameful hypocrisy for a city that prides itself as a melting pot of races and ethnicities. There’s an opportunity to correct this situation, as several Black candidates compete in a field of eight for the second most powerful elected post in city government.

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“New York advertises one thing. When you buy the product, you’re buying a rainbow. And when you get home you find out you have a white, vanilla ice cream cone and there is no rainbow inside, the Rev. Al Sharpton told The New York Times.

This year has seen several significant firsts for African-American candidates in municipal races. A couple of the highlights include LaToya Cantrell becoming the first woman elected mayor of New Orleans. The City councilwoman competed against Desiree Charbonnet, a former judge who is also African American. In Minnesota, Melvin Carter finished ahead of a large field of competitors to become St. Paul’s first Black mayor. And Keisha Bottoms continued a decades-long trend of Black Atlanta mayor in a city where gentrification has sharply reduced the African-American population.

In New York two White candidates appear to have the lead for City Council speaker, according to The Times. But some member of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus have discussed unifying to call for the election of a candidate of color for the coveted post. The election will be held in January and victory requires winning a majority of votes from the Council’s 51 members. Behind the scenes, it’s a complicated process that also involves influence from party bosses in the five boroughs, union leaders and other elected officials outside the Council. Despite those outside voices, the councilmember must opt for diversity.

SOURCE:  The New York Times


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