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ESSENCE Empowerment: Rep. Maxine Waters, Roland S. Martin and Others Discuss What’s At Stake for Blacks in 2014

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Roland Martin
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Subject

In a two-part series that began with a rousing speech from Congresswoman Maxine Waters and ended with an intense debate among panelists Karen Carter Peterson, Dr. Steve Perry, John Bryant, and moderator Roland S. Martin, the clear issue for 2014 is midterm elections. African-Americans were urged by speakers to harness their political power not just for voting in general elections, but also for midterms  and for running for office. 

Congresswoman Maxine Waters cautioned us to “resist those who solicit our vote, but don’t reflect us in their policies.” She emphasized the importance of the African-American community, specifically Black women, saying that even though people criticize us for political inactivity, we turned out in historic numbers in the 2008 and 2012 elections. She promised the crowd, “If the Democrats take back the House, I will take care of Wall Street!”

Immediately following Waters’ speech, the panelists took the stage to delve deeper into education policy. Dr. Steve Perry noted that Black children are criminalized from the time they enter kindergarten, and poor-performing schools are most detrimental to their academic growth and development. Karen Carter Peterson challenged that notion and said that it’s parents who are “not raising their kids” who are the culprits. John Bryant then urged a community effort in tackling issues that affect our kids, saying “We cannot be Black for a living anymore. Full engagement is required.”