Jamala Rogers

Jamala Rogers, Executive Director of the Organization of Black Struggle

The August 4 election results were not just a matter of who won and who lost. An organized community is starting to see the fruits of its labor, from the streets to the ballot box. Being intentional and tangible has helped to put forth a vision of what we want the region to be. This informs a community agenda of change. From here, it becomes easier to put your support behind candidates and ballot issues that line up with our agenda and community values.

A broad network of groups – some ad hoc, others in coalition with one another – are way past the sick and tired point. We are studying the systems of oppressions along with the laws and policies that prop them up. We are honing our organizing skills to get more victories for our families and our communities.

Voters sent a message on August 4 that racism, sexism and cronyism will not be tolerated. Backward thinking and protecting the status quo are unacceptable. Communities are refusing to take the brunt of society’s political and economic burdens while a few enjoy all of the benefits.

The relentless and malicious attacks on two citywide African-American, female officeholders were met with overwhelming support by voters. St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones and Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner easily won their re-elections, one of several reasons the state legislature and governor may have difficulty passing a law that strips Gardner of her power to prosecute homicide cases.

The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is opposing the power grab. This makes the group an unlikely ally of the Black Lives Matter forces that swept Gardner into office in 2016 and who have been blocking attacks against her ever since then. The alignment may be a temporary one but others will be more lasting.

The Community Justice Coalition converged on St. Louis City Hall last fall, armed with signed petitions, to fire City Counselor Julian Bush for his complicity with the frontal assaults on Gardner. Recently Bush, a crony of Mayor Krewson, announced his retirement, citing the desire to travel. We need to send a bunch more just like him, whose corporate interests are in opposition to the majority of people, on permanent vacations.

Missouri voters passed the Clean Missouri Amendment by almost a 2-to-1 margin in 2018. This year, the Republican-dominated Missouri Legislature is doing everything they can to overturn the will of the people. It has put Amendment 3 on the November 3 ballot to rig the process so lobbyists can make secret deals and gerrymander districts. For trying to avoid accountability and disrespecting the vote of the people, Amendment 3 most go down. It must go down big time.

The orange man in the White House is sharpening our understanding that, regardless of whether you live, in the city, suburbia or in rural towns, we have more in common than not, and we are refusing to be divided by the racist dog whistles of the Right.

Further, Trump has attacked or alienated so many sectors that we should be united in building the biggest anti-Trump hammer ever. People of color, women, veterans and active military personnel, LGBTQIA, workers, unions and youth all have a vested destiny in the November 3 election. Who is left are the small segment of people who are longing for the days when white men were in control. These folks are impeding progress for the majority and for the country. 

The re-alignment of forces will be seen and felt on all levels. We have some house cleaning to do in the Democratic Party, in our organizations, in our unions, in our places of worship and other institutions. When we see 2020 in our rear-view mirrors, we must be headed into a period of true human enlightenment. The light must blind out the darkness that has engulfed us this year. The choices are clear.

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