Is he black enough? Isn’t he a little young and a few years shy in terms of experience? Can he turn this red state blue? Questions all too familiar to the American electorate after an often close and harrowing election season. But this time these inquires aren’t fielded toward new President Barack Obama; they’re for Rep. Artur Davis, Democratic U.S. Congressman from Alabama.
Who is Artur Davis you ask? Well if you’ve never heard of him expect to get to know the Harvard Law School cum laude and former Obama classmate soon. He’s another Black politician rising to super star status in the United States Congress - and most possibly beyond.
According to our contacts that are close to the congressman, he’ll be announcing his run to be governor of Alabama today. If things go his way in the 2010 election, he’ll be the first African American to win a gubernatorial race in the Deep South.
Davis, 41, is a part of a new group of young, Black post-Civil rights era politicians - managing to effectively build multi-racial, coalition-based support - that place voter interests and ideas over race and demographic statistics. He was the first Congressman outside of Illinois to endorse Barack Obama, and he gave a seconding speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, formally placing Obama’s name in nomination.
Although Davis has close ties to President Barack Obama, his own reputation as a principled legislator with a record of bipartisan cooperation, is quickly emerging. In 2003 as a freshman congressman, Davis successfully fought to reverse funding cuts for minority land grant colleges. In his second term, he won the battle to restore funding to a federal program for renovating houses (HOPE IV), and persuaded 60 Republicans to vote his way in the process.
Even with Davis’ personal accomplishments and impressive record of leadership, some may argue that the Republican-leaning state of Alabama, with a 71 percent White population, just isn’t ready for a Black leader. Statistics seem to point that way, especially since Republican Sen. John McCain won the state 61 percent to 39 percent over Obama in the November presidential election.
Memories of church bombings and police sicking dogs on civil rights activists in Alabama endure in the nation's consciousness. And 1960's Alabama Governor George Wallace's pro-segregation agenda remains one of the clearest examples of systemic racism from the past.
But Davis says that, “I think the most overused words in our vocabulary in the South are black and white.” And with a black President being elected less than 40 years after Dr. King died, who knows, anything is possible.
Angel Elliott, BET News, Contributed to this report.