Billy Murphy Slams Baltimore Afro, Supports Rawlings-Blake
COMMENTARY – Letter to Afro Newspaper
from Billy Murphy, Esquire:
The Afro endorsement of Ken Harris
(BALTIMORE – Sept. 11, 2007) –
By endorsing Ken Harris for Baltimore City Council President, the Baltimore Afro American Newspaper has dealt a serious blow to Sheila Dixon’s (or Kieffer Mitchell’s) ability to run Baltimore City for multiple terms and to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s candidacy and her opportunity to become mayor after Sheila or Kieffer. You have also delighted Michael Sarbanes and his supporters. The logic is inescapable; and I shared it with you two weeks ago when I urged you to support Stephanie instead of Michael.
Anyone with the slightest political sophistication knows that Ken Harris has no chance to win and can only divide the black vote. He has no name recognition, is dismally behind in every known political poll, has no money, and cannot raise money at this late date. It is obvious that he can only be a spoiler of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s candidacy. Why, then, would the Afro want to spoil her candidacy if her loss would mean that Michael Sarbanes would win? Ostensibly, by endorsing Ken Harris, the Afro was not in favor of Sarbanes. Obviously, and under cover, the Afro is, in fact, in favor of a Sarbanes victory.
Many believe that because the Afro did not like Pete Rawlings for his stance on Morgan State University, it opposed Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. But it did not want the embarrassment in the black community which would flow from endorsing Sarbanes . So it did the politically equivalent by endorsing Ken Harris. Unfortunately, by doing it this way, the Afro also gave black readers the false picture that the Afro sincerely wanted to maximize black political power and opportunity in this election.
Assuming that the Afro wants to maximize this black political opportunity to learn to wield significant political power, why would the Afro deliberately undermine Sheila’s (or Keiffer’s) and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s ability to continue to learn to do that by ensuring a Sarbanes victory, thereby destroying Stephanie’s chance to win and putting Sarbanes in a commanding position to beat Sheila or Kieffer in the next election four years from now by using his position to promote his own eventual candidacy?
Everyone who has ever owned a newspaper has had a political agenda. What on earth is the Afro’s? It is certainly not the consistent desire to achieve, maximize and maintain black power and opportunity. It is certainly not the desire to promote the historic elevation in this election of two competent black women to unprecedented positions of shared power. What the Afro did is totally at odds with what the late great Carl Murphy did in 1970 when both Milton Allen and Arthur Murphy wanted to run for State’s Attorney against a white candidate. He convened a summit of respected black leaders at his office to persuade one of them to drop out of the race to assure black political power and opportunity. He recognized that the black community then – as now – needed more political power, not less, to achieve its worthy goals and to ensure the survival of the black community. He recognized that this is the only legitimate role of a black newspaper. He recognized that Frederick Douglass was right when he said that power yields nothing without struggle and that it never has and never will.
Milton’s victory in 1970 created the black community’s first real opportunity to hire, train and develop an entire generation of black prosecutors who eventually and successfully moved into politics and the private sector.
The Afro has also forgotten that when Parren Mitchell beat the powerful incumbent congressman Sam Friedel and the up-and-coming Paul Friedler by 49 votes in 1970 to become the first black congressman in the United States in the 20th century, he won only because the Jewish community, which has been repeatedly victimized by anti-Semitism, permitted these two excellent and popular Jewish candidates to split the Jewish vote.
Parren became a revered political leader who opened the doors of opportunity to countless blacks, women and other disadvantaged people. Jews learned their lesson and never again split their votes to their disadvantage. For example, when Michael Steele ran against Ben Cardin last year, Michael’s close friend, a powerful lobbyist, told him unapologetically that he was supporting Cardin because they were both Jews and because the Jewish community could not afford to give away power. Trust me, as disappointed as Michael Steele was, he understood and respected that approach because he understood that Jewish political power is essential to Jewish survival.
The Afro could have convened a similar summit with Stephanie Rawlings and Ken Harris to get Ken to drop out of the race to maximize this enormous black political opportunity instead of giving a de facto endorsement to Michael Sarbanes, who, who like Stephanie Rawlings, happens to be a fine person from an illustrious political family. Instead, the Afro is encouraging black people to give away power in this coming election. Unfortunately, in this election year, the black community will again have to rely on others to consistently, courageously and unapologetically pursue a power agenda like every other disadvantaged group in America.
As Carl Murphy was fond of saying, it is not the man, it’s the plan.
I am deeply disappointed. Please print this.
William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr., Esq.
William H. Murphy, Jr. & Associates, P.A.
12 West Madison Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
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