Election season is upon us again! Campaigns are making their church rounds, circulating their petitions in their respective districts, and making promises to constituents that I hope that they can keep; preparing for the upcoming March 17, 2020 primaries! This year is especially exciting for me because this is the Blackest ticket I’ve ever seen in Peoria! Locally we have Junior Watkins, Peoria County Board Dist 1; Barry Robinson, Peoria County Board Dist 3; Jessica Thomas, Peoria County Auditor; Rachel Parker, Peoria County Clerk; Chris McCall, State’s Attorney; Jehan Gordon-Booth, IL State Representative; me, Spanky Edwards, U.S. Representative for Illinois 17th Congressional District. Then for president, there’s Corey Booker and Kamala Harris. These candidates have a special charge on them; an expectation that is deeply rooted in our generational struggle for freedom. This Is an assignment that they didn’t ask for, but was placed upon them the very moment that they decided to submit to serving the people.
As I reflect on the possibilities of all these magnificently melanated members of our community, I can’t help but ponder on what it took to get us here; considering the fact that none of these candidates could have voted just 55 years ago. I’m reminded of the moral principles of, my beloved Morehouse Brother, Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech; who articulated the dream, but was not its architect. They’re vying to be the modern torchbearers that our ancestors could only sing about, Phyllis Wheatley could only write about, Nat Turner could only revolt about, Fredrick Douglass could only speak about, WEB Dubois could only think about, Fannie Lou Hamer could only fight about, Ella Baker could only protest about and Jimmy Lee Jackson could only march about! This “Black Ticket” is our fore parents answered prayers and wildest dreams!
Now, this River City vanguard of policy makers must legislate our own freedom. We are in a position to negotiate our own society for the betterment of all people. We must legislate the Dream! Because justice can’t roll down like water, if the streams are poisoned with the government’s lead! None of us are free when millions of our beautiful young brothers and sisters wait for nothing in for-profit prisons for crimes that they never went to trial by a jury of their peers, for. Our community is not safe if 12th graders continue to graduate high school with nothing more than a fifth grade education.
For these reasons, we need Medicare for all, reparations for the descendants of the American enslaved, student loan forgiveness for our scholars, free college and trade school education starting in high school, a Green New Deal to help save our earth, and jobs for all where every Peorian can have a livable wage. Because no American who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty, paycheck to paycheck!
We have to create a society conducive for poor people to dream again. Here lies the mystery of our forward progress. I’m not sure when America was great for Black people, but I know that by us legislating the dreams of our ancestors, whom are presently with us, we can make America better!