A lot can change in a year. Twelve months ago, Colorado’s African-American community feared that when the state’s legislature convened this year, there would be no Black representation for the first time in almost 60 years. Now Denver, a city with a 10 percent Black population, has elected its second Black mayor, and two African-Americans are serving in the Colorado General Assembly and two others on Denver’s City Council, The Denver Post reports.
Colorado has a history of electing Black candidates that is “amazing” compared to other states, David Bositis, a political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic studies, told BET.com. This is especially true given the fact that it has a 4 percent Black population.
In 1975, Tuskegee airman George Brown was elected lieutenant governor. In 1998, Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers and Secretary of State Vikki Buckley, both African-American, filled two of five statewide seats. The 1992 Denver mayoral runoff election was between two Black candidates. And, in 2009, Colorado became the first state to have a Black House speaker and a Black Senate president serving in the same legislature.
“Race is not an issue there, as it is in states that have large Black populations,” said Bositis. “Voters look at Black candidates as people who happen to be Black.”
Elbra Wedgeworth, a former member of Denver’s City Council, agrees. Still, she said, it is important for African-Americans to encourage a new crop of Blacks to become leaders in both the public and private sectors. In doing so, there will be no risk of the political void some worried would occur in 2011.
“We have to make sure we have a voice at the table,” she told the Post. “We have a responsibility to keep it going.”
(Photo: Matthew Staver/Landov)