No matter their political affiliation, the experts on the panel at D.C.-based emerging-leaders organization IMPACT‘s Election Night Party, which The Root co-sponsored with the CBC Institute, BET and Politic365, agreed that increased political engagement is paramount in the black community.
The panel, moderated by BET White House correspondent Andre Showell, opened the evening at Washington, D.C.’s K Street Lounge, where politicos, young black professionals and media folks mingled as the election results flashed on big-screen televisions in the background. Panelists Charles Ellison, host of The New School on XM/Sirius, Stephanie Brown of the NAACP, communications professional and former Obama campaign aide Jesse Moore, Paris Dennard of the Republican National Committee and the Black Leadership Forum’s Gary Flowers discussed their hopes for the midterm elections and ways that black voters can become more politically engaged moving forward.
Moore, who is the spokesman for the Administration of Children and Families, said that above all else, he hoped to see that the exit poll data revealed “activism from young people.”
Although the news outlets would announce that the House of Representatives had officially gone to the Republicans a few minutes after the panel ended, Brown said that unprecedented black turnout would surprise a lot of people who only listen to pundits “who have no connection to our community.”
It should come as no surprise that Dennard, a representative from the RNC, would say that he wanted to see Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) booted as Speaker of the House. He got his wish! But he also stressed that with the inevitable Republican takeover of the house, the black community needs to learn to trust and communicate with the GOP if its party members will be representing them in Congress.
Ellison said that it was important for Democrats to work with Republicans, noting that the Congressional Black Caucus is made up of all Democrats. “It’s not all about taking sides,” he said. “It’s about empowerment and starting to exercise some really shrewd political power.”
As the panel came to an end, final election results began to appear on the lounge’s television screens. Soon it was announced the Republicans had won back the House. The takeover had been predicted in the polls, but the news elicited groans from several attendees. Now that most of the election results are in and the Republicans have a majority in the House, is it time to practice what the panelists preached?
Lauren Williams is The Root‘s associate editor. Follow her on Twitter.