Elaine Brown runs for mayor of Brunswick, Ga.
Former leader of the Black Panther Party now a card-carrying Green
By LaVerne Butler
D.C. Statehood Green Party
Elaine Brown, former chair of the Oakland-based Black Panther Party, is
running for mayor of Brunswick, Ga. She first publicly announced her intentions
at this spring's Chesapeake Campaign School at Howard University in Washington,
By the end of the weekend, Brown had signed on to become a card-carrying Green
because the basic principles of the party, such as social and economic justice,
are in sync with her own principles.
Brown previously ran for councilwoman in Oakland, Calif. in 1972 and 1974 as a
member of the Black Panther Party.
|Elaine Brown, former head of the Black Panthers
and candidate for
mayor in Brunswick, Ga., speaks at Howard University.
Dean Myerson / D.C. Statehood Green Party
Since returning in 1996 from living in France, Brown has wasted no time
reconnecting with communities in both Atlanta and the tiny port city of
Brunswick, Ga. Brown was introduced to Brunswick by way of the G-8 Sea Island
Summit held in 2004. A win by Brown in Brunswick would be historic because it is
a majority Black and economically depressed community sitting in the midst of a
gold mine from which it does not profit.
Brown delivered a pointed speech to a packed audience at Howard that ran the
gamut of age and race. Her message was sprinkled with a dose of reality and a
vision of what is possible if she wins. Her challenge to the Black community as
well as progressive whites is to get back to basics and work on organizing
people at the local level to solve the problems at hand with a
"Folks here and around the world are living in tenuous times," says
Brown. "People think about freedom of the press, but we can't eat freedom
of the press. We need to put the concept of freedom back on the agenda--freedom
for Black folk, freedom for all people who are oppressed in this country and
throughout the world.... Liberation should be our goal."
Brown's appearance at this event served a twofold purpose. It not only
highlighted attention to Brown's impending announcement to run for elective
office, but also the viability of the Greens to attract a qualified and highly
visible candidate. Even though this is a nonpartisan race, her registration as a
Green should catapult the Green Party of the United States (GP-US) to another
Many in the audience at Howard University's Blackburn Center, such as Maya
O'Connor, member of the D.C. Statehood Green Party (DCSGP), found Ms. Brown's
words inspiring and energizing. "She has still maintained her class
perspective on politics, despite all the years of retreat by the U.S. left from
class-based organizing, and she categorically rejects the Black nationalism and
anti-Asian tendencies of the 'new' Black Panther Party as well as the 'black
capitalism' favored by wealthier Blacks," says O'Connor.
"I am especially excited with the current candidacy of Sister Elaine Brown
in her bid for the position of mayor," says Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, another
member of the DCSGP. "She has taken a historic and courageous position to
break from the norm and run for office as a member of the Green Party, which is
unusual considering the political path taken by other radicals from the 1960s
and 1970s. Elaine continues on her courageous journey of truly grassroots,
radical politics. Her warm witty style, keen sense of history, great organizing
abilities and razor-sharp critical thinking and analytical skills will prove to
be a great breath of fresh air in her campaign."
Brothers Zack and Harry Lyde, leaders in the Georgia Green Party, worked on
recruiting Brown in 2004 to run for the mayor's slot in the upcoming election.
The Reverend Lyde invited Black Caucus Co-Chair Michele Tingling-Clemmons to
attend a campaign strategy session looking at running a Green slate in Brunswick
to be headed by Brown.
Tingling-Clemmons believes that the Green Party has "demonstrated that it
is a party willing to stand in solidarity with a poor Black community fighting
against an entrenched racist bureaucracy in order to secure their future for
generations to come."
Brown's campaign was officially launched on May 19, the birthday of Malcolm X,
to great fanfare and public interest. Brown feels good about the location of her
campaign headquarters, because it is in a high-traffic setting as well as in
close proximity to "her people." There is a steady flow of visitors
into the storefront office, from the locals on up to those representing the
state and federal levels of government.
|Brown's historic position in the Black Panthers
makes her popular
with Black and Latino youth around the country.
Africa Resource Center
Brown wasted no time pulling together her core campaign workers, including
Campaign Manager Anita Collins, a native of Brunswick with strong family ties to
Brown hopes winning this election will help redirect some of the massive
revenues generated by the port to create an economic base of power to improve
the welfare of Brunswick's majority Black and poor residents. For starters, a
redistribution of just a portion of the port's wealth will provide a springboard
to improve jobs, housing, education and healthcare. Her immediate goal if
elected is to stem the wholesale displacement of the Black community, which will
occur with the implementation of the already planned project "Blueprint
Brown anticipates that the Republican Party will spare no expense in backing a
candidate and that the Democrats may put up two Black candidates to dissipate
and confuse the electorate. She will need to overcome efforts to portray her
candidacy as illegitimate and the fear of some to break away from the status
Should Brown be successful in her bid, not only will she be the first Black
mayor of Brunswick, she will be the first female mayor of Brunswick and the
first Green mayor of Brunswick.
For more info or to support Brown, contact her campaign headquarters:
2802 Altama Ave., Ste. B
Brunswick, GA 31520.
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