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Put your money where your vote is. (Publisher's Page).

This Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2002, is one of potentially huge significance for African Americans and the entire nation. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk and New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, in their races for U.S. Senate and New York governor, respectively, are poised to become the first African Americans in more than a decade elected to represent our nation in two of the 150 most powerful positions of American politics. To win their races, Kirk, McCall, and every other candidate seeking office will need votes. However, to be in the races at all required dollars--millions of dollars. Unfortunately, not enough of the money they needed to mount their historic campaigns came from African American contributors. Too often, this means that those we expect to support and represent us cannot count on enough of us to help ensure their political survival.

For those of us who truly understand the connection between political and economic power, and government's critical role in shaping the policies that determine the potential for black wealth creation, this is a reality we can no longer accept. Making financial contributions to political campaigns is, perhaps, the most important way to practice Principle No. 7 of our Declaration of Financial Empowerment: to use a portion of my personal wealth to strengthen my community We know, especially after the election fiascos of Florida, that every African American must vote, and that every ballot not cast or not counted can turn the tide of political power dangerously against us. But just voting on Election Day is no longer enough. We must become financial contributors to the campaigns we believe best represent our needs and interests, regardless of the race or party affiliation of the candidates.

The total money income of African Americans continues to grow and is approaching the $600 billion mark. Each and every one of us must commit to investing some portion of this growing income in our own political empowerment. African Americans of means, which include a significant proportion of the readership of BLACK ENTERPRISE, would do well to follow the example of active and prominent campaign contributors such as Robert Johnson, Russell Simmons, Bill and Camille Cosby, and my wife, Barbara, and I. But you don't have to be wealthy to help finance a campaign you believe in--enough of even the smallest of contributions can make a huge difference. Just as every vote counts, so does every dollar.

The reality is, your passionate belief in a candidate is not enough to get that candidate elected--in fact, it never has been enough. And as the cost of mounting a credible campaign increases, especially for candidates trying to move beyond representation of congressional districts and municipalities to the powerful statewide and national positions of governor and U.S. senator, we must measure our political power not only by our ability to get out the vote, but also by our willingness to break out our checkbooks. It's long past time for us to put our money where our votes are.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Graves, Earl G., Sr.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 2002
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