Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Black Political Power in Indianapolis - Black Leadership Crisis in Indianapolis (Indy)

I was reading this post from the African-American Political Pundit blog talking about a "leadership crisis" in Indianapolis. A man "Rozelle Boyd" was a member of the Indianapolis city council for 42 years and he finally got turned out last year. He'll be stepping down from his position and there will be a changing of the guard.

Reading that post it seems like things got done during the course of his leadership in Indianapolis politics, but an Indianapolis blog has something different to state. The Black Accountablity Project - Indianapolis takes a look at Mr. Boyd...

Boyd is ending 42 years of public service on the council and we would argue that it is in fact a necessary changing of the guard. Clearly, his election in the 1960s was an important milestone for the Indianapolis black community. But as with much of the leadership that emerged during that period, there has been precious little innovation in the exercise of that leadership. In reflecting on his career, one can make the credible argument that much of what he is credited with as a councilman is either largely symbolic or benefited a select few. Boyd was an insider, working within the system to accomplish change and therein lies the issue.

Many of our black politicians still in office of Boyd's generation figured out the inside game of leveraging influence to bring benefits to a few minority contractors, or how to cool out tensions in the black community aroused by incidents of racism. But government is not a solution to every problem. The leadership of Boyd's generation never made the leap to the next level of black empowerment, the outside game of creating value and power through economic development, organizations and people. When getting the King Holiday enacted is what you regard as your most "concrete" accomplishment, I think the point is clear.

So now Boyd exits stage right as a younger group of black leadership takes center stage on council. Whether or not these new council members will do better than their predecessors at leveraging the outside game of leadership remains to be seen. The Black Accountability Project - Indianapolis will be watching.
I saw another post that caught my eye about the religious leadership in Indianapolis. This post discussed an attempt by a group of black ministers to demand that $25 million to be placed in a crime prevention program...

That attempt to force the Peterson administration to provide funding for faith based programming through political grandstanding and ultimatums stands as an example of how faith leadership in Indianapolis fails to expand and develop the strategic value of their connection to thousands of people. Clearly Indy's faith leadership has influence and political clout and working together to leverage that clout is a viable strategem. But where faith leadership consistently fails is in recognizing that their political leverage arises from the people they in theory represent. To truly wield this clout, they must be able to move the people of their congregations to consistent, unified action. It is not a sufficient condition of change for faith leadership to make demands which cannot be backed up by significant consequences, political or otherwise.
Now I don't know much about what's going on down there in "Nap-Town", however, I'm sure someone is asking questions about Chicago's black leadership. I wonder what people think of black leadership in "Chi-Town". Is there a similar crisis or is it different in Chicago?

1 comment:

JP Paulus said...

I have thought about this for some time, and again, don’t have all the answers, but a few observations.

In Chicago, there are several layers of networks that rarely interact with each other:

One layer is through the Christian Community Development Association, which is quietly rebuilding neighborhoods through Christian economic means. The Chicgao Urban League is now focusing on community development, and it would be good if those two got together.

Other networks include graduates of Moody Bible Institute and churches connected with Pasotr John Hannah (of New Life Covenant Oakwood & Gospel radio 1390).

I know some division is due to egos and severe differences in doctrine keep churches from working together…but there is just something else, especially in Chicago, that I can’t put my finger on, but it drives me crazy! God can do so much through Chicago’s churches, if we let Him!!!

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