NEW YORK (FinalCall.com)–Professor James Blake has brought the spirit of the Million Man March to politics.
Prof. Blake, who returned to Queens, N.Y., from the Million Man March in 1995 and joined with other activists to form the Queens Million Man March/Million Woman March Committee, recently was elected as the Democratic Party District Leader in the 19th Assembly District.
“Our voice is stronger now,” Prof. Blake said during an interview with The Final Call. “The spirit of the Million Man March is exemplified by our organization in that everyone respects the other’s differences and we find a common front to work together. We realized that we had a common struggle regardless of political persuasion or religious affiliation.
“We realized that we had a common struggle, which is to improve our community, improve our families and make life better for society,” he added.
The area represented by Prof. Blake includes a large Black population, a sizeable Latin American community interspersed with Jews and Italians.
Prof. Blake, an administrator at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, had tried unsuccessfully to win a seat on N.Y. City Council in 2001, placing second in a field of 10 candidates. He defeated the district leader who had refused to give him the nomination for the council seat.
“As a group we were able to show the youth in our community what can be accomplished when there is vision and determination,” he said.
He stresses the importance of teaching children civic duty and responsibility. One of the big events in the community is the annual Fathers and Their Families March.
“The march shows the young brothers in the community that there are men in the community who are proud to be fathers,” he said.
Mr. Blake’s district is also economically diverse. It has the bedroom community of Laurelton–where the Black median income is $50,000 and where just about everyone owns a home–to St. Albans, which is going through an economic resurgence.
The complexities of the issues are reflected by the crime statistics reported in the three police precincts that cover Mr. Blake’s district, including 31 murders and 97 rapes since January.
“We need comprehensive community centers where you can build up family life, give family counseling, and run sports and educational programs,” Mr. Blake insists.
He said the community center was one of the main goals of the political coalition that elected him. As district leader he would have the opportunity to help the community grow in a positive way, he said.