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Friday, June 21, 2024

Black Indianapolis won and so did Black mayors!

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While certainly the election was closer than the 72% win in 2019, Mayor Joe Hogsett earned an impressive victory over his toughest opponent to date. He also became the first Democratic mayor to win a third term post-Uni-Gov. This was a hard-fought victory for Mayor Hogsett who had to overcome a well-financed opponent. Key to the win was long established relationships with our community. At the end of the day, he was known to our community and people could point to his track record on a variety of issues.

In a heavily leaning Democratic County, Jefferson Shreve spent an estimated $13.5 million to get his message out to the community. He certainly made this a contested campaign and invested his own money to do so. Policy differences aside, I think Mr. Shreve was honest about his beliefs and a gentleman.

The most expensive mayoral election in city history only moved voter turnout from roughly 24% to just over 26%. That’s our democracy at this moment.

I certainly do hope that any and all candidates running for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2027 will have a written plan to work with Black leaders on moving the community forward.

Black Indianapolis won, in part, because we have a new plan from Mayor Hogsett outlining how he plans to work with Black leaders in Indianapolis on moving the city forward. The plan is posted on his campaign website but also on the www.indyblackagendas.org page which keeps track of Black agendas developed in the community.

The community needs to read Mayor Hogsett’s plan. The Black community and Black leaders should add to the plan as we collectively develop our next Black agenda. Most important, there will need to be engagement and accountability on priorities listed in the Hogsett plan.

But now it’s time to talk about Black mayors.

Black Hoosiers won as well with the re-election of Mayor Rod Roberson (Elkhart) and Mayor Anthony Copeland (East Chicago).

Former State Senator Eddie Melton easily won his election as the new Mayor-elect of Gary.

But we also got three newly elected and first Black women mayors with Lawrence electing Mayor-elect Deborah Winfield, Michigan City electing  Mayor-elect Angie Nelson Deutich, and the election of Mayor-elect Stephanie Terry the first Black and first female mayor of Evansville.

Ronald Morrell, Jr. became possibly the first Black Republican Mayor in Indiana and first Black Mayor of Marion.

I don’t know that we have ever had this many Black mayors in city halls across the state of Indiana.

(It looks like youth won this election cycle with Terre Haute also making some history with Mayor-elect Brandon Sakbun beating incumbent Mayor Duke Bennett.)

Finally, with Evanston, Illinois as a potential model, there has been some discussion in the community about exploring the case for reparations based on official action conducted by city hall over the 200 years of Black people living in Indianapolis.

The conversations have focused primarily on understanding what official city action occurred that directly impacted Black Indianapolis residents, and at a policy level what are potential remedies that could ameliorate disparities that stem from previous official actions by city officials against the Black community.

Black people are not at the bottom of the good statistics and top of the bad statistics for no reason.

While the city can point to a 16% decline in homicides, the Black community has lost too many of our children to gun violence. Black males are murdered at levels in this city that should shock the conscience. And domestic violence in our community is something we need to talk about more. Community activists have argued that the city’s anti-violence efforts could be operated better. They will need to make that case to both city hall as well as the community. Losing nearly 20 children in a year to homicides is a compelling reason for all parties to have the conversation.

But from homeownership to unemployment, to median income, to a host of other social and economic indicators we lag behind other racial groups.

While personal responsibility has to be part of the decision to commit a violent act, we need to be thinking beyond root causes of violence and to the history that informs generational disparities and underinvestment in our communities.

It will be interesting to see how this conversation unfolds and if it moves.

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  1. I find this headline very racist. White racism. The very thing that YOU and your community have been very vocal about for years. Never mind that every day we hear you call each other the N word. A white person even says, “you people” and we are condemned. Why should you be able to print such an atrocious headline? It offends.

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