African American activists have a message for Democrats: If you want to win back the White House, strongly consider a black person on the ticket.
On their list are a growing roster of black politicians, notably Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former Attorney General Eric Holder and Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts.
Turnout among African Americans in the 2016 presidential election was the smallest in 20 years. It’s a big concern as the NAACP holds its annual convention this week in Baltimore, its first major gathering since the election.
Hilary Shelton, head of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, said “It could be difficult” for Democrats in the future without an African American on the ticket.
But he added that the black community is “very sophisticated” politically, and having an African American is not essential if white candidates “are speaking our language, which means that they’re addressing our concerns, they’re going to get our support.”
Several in the rank and file felt differently.
Yvette Stone longs for the days when Barack Obama occupied the White House. She wants African American voters shouldn’t settle for anything less than a Democratic ticket with a black candidate in 2020.
“We have to represent what we want. We have to represent who we are,” Stone, a Huntington, N.Y. convention delegate. “Everyone always comes for our vote, and what do we get in return?”