The black women who voted in Alabama deserve more than your gratitude

Democrat Doug Jones speaks Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Jones won Alabama's special Senate election, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

If not for black women, Doug Jones might very well have given a concession speech on Tuesday night. Because of their overwhelming support, he will be the Democratic senator from Alabama, putting Roy Moore and his horse, Sassy, out to pasture.

Black women voters in Alabama went 98 percent for Doug Jones. That is a staggering percentage. But the real takeaway from this election about black women voters and their loyalty to the Democratic Party is that black women are, as CNN’s Daniel Burke tweeted, “the real Values Voters.” While journalists and faith leaders have touted values as the defining factor in white evangelicals’ support for the G.O.P., black women’s values align more with the Gospel and community. Black women care deeply about civic engagement, democracy, education, children and justice. These are values that were glaringly absent from Roy Moore’s campaign, despite public displays of prayer at his election night rally.


If not for black women, Doug Jones might very well have given a concession speech on Tuesday night.

It took a candidate like Mr. Moore to show what many have known all along: Black women are a vital, moral resource for civic engagement in the United States. Black women fought for the right to vote during the suffrage movement and fought again during the civil rights movement. The rote narrative in the press of the civil rights movement is truncated with the briefest of histories of men like Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson or John Lewis. The reality is that these men could not have come to prominence without the work of Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Ala., or Fannie Lou Hamer at the 1964 Democratic convention. They and thousands of other forgotten black women walked during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sent their children out to march in the Children’s Crusade of May 1963 and comforted the mothers of four little girls who lost their daughters in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Black women are, as CNN’s Daniel Burke tweeted, “the real Values Voters.”

Black women in Alabama did it again in this special Senate election. While nearly two-thirds of white women voted for a man who has been accused of strolling the mall to pick up underage girls, black women in Alabama opted to vote for a candidate that prosecuted the murderers of those four young black girls killed in a church. White women voted for a man who did not want to take no for an answer from young women. They voted for a man who said ridding the Constitution of all the amendments after the 10th “would eliminate many problems.”

Despite all this, white evangelicals are still the most discussed religious voting bloc in the United States because of their vigorous pro-life stances and opposition to same-sex marriage and homosexuality. The reality is, their backing of Roy Moore is a crisis of moral fortitude, not only for the Republican Party but for evangelicalism.

Black women cannot be expected to continue to save white people from the poor choices they make.

While it is important that black women begin to receive the accolades and assistance they are due from the Democratic Party, they cannot be expected to continue to save white people from the poor choices they make, based not on moral values but party affiliation. This is not simply a problem for white evangelicals. The 45 percent of voting Catholics who chose Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election have to do the same soul-searching that white evangelicals in Alabama need to do about the ways they have compromised their religious beliefs in the name of party loyalty.

Zora Neale Hurston once described black women as the mules of the world, but black women are not mules to be ridden to the polls. Nor are they solely responsible for bringing American democracy back from the brink of destruction. The same black women who stood in long lines to vote before and after going to work on Tuesday will be in churches on Sunday morning across Alabama. They will serve as church mothers, pastors, Sunday school teachers, ushers, choir directors and liturgists.

These women deserve to be lauded. They understand what democracy is because they have had to fight every step of the way to be considered fully human. The work and votes that black women deliver deserve more than just lip service from candidates. They deserve concerted policy initiatives and a seat at the decision-making tables on the local state and national level. I hope that Doug Jones will make that possible.

So while you may want to thank every black woman on your job or in your local parish, think about what they have sacrificed, without receiving much, from the United States. Think about the witness they bear to the principles of community and the Gospel. I am thinking about black women like Sister Antona Ebo, who died in November. Sister Ebo was the only black sister at the Selma march in 1965 for voting rights. She said, “I am here because I’m a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness.” Because she bore witness, black women in Alabama could follow her lead and bear witness and vote. That is what black women of faith can do. Honor them and give them their just due.

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Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year 7 months ago

Mr Ademoyo
You made it abundantly clear that you think the deep red nature of Alabama is such that you were afraid Jones would forget who voted for him. To that I say...straw man argument , not worthy of response.
My point was very simple: why expect more of Jones or any politician to remember his black voter support when that political paragon Barack Obama has set the standard for ignoring black voters as well as his Hispanic minority backers.

Please do not continuously repeat at length your argument....I understand it. Your throwing in a gratuitous and endless anti Trump diatribe is unnecessary and has no apparent purpose to the essay point or your own point other than to relieve the pressure you feel to shout about it.
I have no personal "interpretation" of Dr Butler's essay is of a piece with and consistent with her other publications. If her point is that black voters are used, abused and then forgotten by the Democrats, I think she is entirely correct. But that is not a novel observation and it hardly needed the defeat of as weak an opponent as Moore to demonstrate that blacks should be respected.

Adeolu Ademoyo
1 year 6 months ago

Mr. Stuart Meisenzahl,
Let me be systematic.
1. I will ignore your reference of "straw man" argument. That is a type of fallacy your post has not supported. You may need to do more to defend your deployment of that kind of fallacy to represent what you actually wanted to say. It is obvious that this fallacy did nit help you say what you wanted to say. You simply referenced it and it did not do the job for you.
2. The conversation is about Alabama politics, and Doug Jones election.
3. Professor Butler argued that what is important is that the newly elected Senator -Doug Jones-should go to Washington with a clear understanding of the nature of his mandate-a coalition of forces-from Democrats to Republicans. This means Senator Jones mandate is not a "red meat" mandate-in other words , Senator Jones' mandate is not a right wing mandate. And neither is it a left wing mandate.
4. I interpreted Butler on Alabama. In interpreting Butler, I called attention to the traditional view that Alabama is a "deep red" state-I called attention to the fact that this traditional reading cannot be used to interpret Jones victory, otherwise Jones would not have won. I called attention to Donald Trump's traditional "red meat"-(i) Donald Trump's policies are anti women, (ii) Donald Trump's policies are anti Americans who belong to the minority demographic. (iii) Donald Trump's polices are anti working class-of all races, ethnicities, religion, gender etc-I gave two examples of this anti-working class policies (a) Donald Trump's/Republican Party tax bill is a tax bill for the BIG DONORS to the Republican party and to Donald Trump and his business, (b) Donald Trump is feeding and enriching the Washington swamp BIG TIME through this tax bill and the kinds of appointments to the cabinet he has made (c) Donald Trump and the Republican party plan to dispossess American working people of all races and ethnicities of their health care-by repealing the Affordable Care Act-called Obamacare. Now these are traditional "red meat" and rightwing policies. (iv) Trump's Charlottesville (Virginia) support for racists, haters, anti-semites, fascists when he-Donald Trump said in print that there are good people among "both sides"-meaning there are good people among KKK supporters, racists, sexists, fascists anti-semites, anti-women etc-this is "red meat" par excellence, quintessential "red meat".
5. If Roy Moore, the alleged pedophile had won, and given his support for Trump and Trump's support for him, we would expect Roy Moore to defend the "red meat" policies in item 4 because Moore would be living under the illusion that Alabama is a "deep red" state needing " deep red meat"! hence my point about Butler on Jones and my interpretation of Butler on Jones. My interpretation is that Butler is saying that Jones should not forget the coalition that elected him. And I agree with that caution from Professor Butler. I extended Butler's argument by saying that while I am not saying that the now Senator Jones will defend rightwing and "red meat" policies, it is important that in reminding Senator Jones to be aware of the coalition that elected him, to state clearly the nature of that coalition and the vision of the new Alabama that is emerging from his electoral victory over the right wing and "red meat" candidate Roy Moore-an Alabama which is not exclusively made of right wing, Republican party, and "red meat" voters-an Alabama which is also not exclusively made of left wing or solely Democratic party voters.
6. Finally, let me help you since you are unable to see the issues clearly. I guess you are not able to defend the policies and views of Donald Trump. In your inability to defend Donald Trump and your party you must dodge, hedge, waffle and deploy the classical fallacy of irrelevance-called ad-hominem. In other words, you are not able to look straight and face the ugliness in the Trump policies and views in item 4, you are not able to face the ugliness of the policies that made Roy Moore to lose. Let me remind you of two of these and why Professor Butler is right. (a) Donald Trump's slogan is Make America "Great" Again. When Roy Moore was asked when last America was "great", Roy Moore answered that America was "great" during the period of slavery of African Americans. Since you have alluded to some logical concept, I presume you must have an understanding of some rudiments of logical thinking. Thus, it should interest you that the logical meaning of Roy Moore's response is that to make America "Great" Again as part of Donald Trump's "red meat" and right wing policies we ought to return to the period of slavery of African Americans. (b) The second ugliness you are unable to face and which partly led to Roy Moore's loss is the allegation against him that he is pedophile and the heretical defense of his alleged pedophillic acts by his fellow Republican "Christians". Roy Moore has been accused of being a pedophile. Some of the rationalizations of Roy Moore's defenders is nothing but heresy against the Holy Spirit, the Christian faith, our faith in God, and our savior Christ. Hear what some of Roy Moore's defenders said and how they defended Roy Moore. And by the way these are "Christians" like Donald Trump! These "Christians" said Roy Moore did no wrong and in saying this they alluded to (i) the Holy Family- Mary/Joseph and (ii) how Mary carried baby Jesus in her womb! Mr. Stuart Meisenzahl, the defense of your fellow Republican "Christians" of Roy Moore is supposed to be a "logical" "defense"-right? But the "defense" of your fellow Republican and Trump "Christians" is nothing but heresy, an analogical heresy. Now the point is that these are the instances of ugliness that you are not able to look straight in the face, and which made you dodge and hedge. I hope this will help you look at the issues better and see the ugliness that made your party to make an alleged pedophile a candidate of the party-Republican party. And this is a Republican party which lays claim to defending "Christian" and "family" values. It is going to be difficult to reconcile genuine Christian and family values with sexual abuse of teenage girls and adults, sexual harassment, return to slavery as part of Make America "Great" Again as canvassed by Roy Moore , disrespect of women and open pedophillic acts-acts which are increasingly defining your party-the Republican party under the leadership of Donald Trump.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year 6 months ago

Mr Ademoyo
I have defended no one in my response to you nor did I say Prof Butler is wrong
You create endless straw men to justify an impenetrable rant which seems to serve a purpose known only to yourself
Enough already!

Adeolu Ademoyo
1 year 6 months ago

Mr. Stuart Meisenzahl
It seems you are unable to defend your ad-hominem entrance into an important conversation about the fate of the country in the Alabama election. Before you attempted to sneak in a completely irrelevant and different issue, the conversation was about the recently concluded Alabama Senate election won by Doug Jones. The sneaky and covert online tactics of rightwing bots, trolls including trolls and bots sponsored by the Russian former KGB spy who is now Russian President Vladimir Putin is well known. When a serious conversation is going on on an important online platform, the right wing trolls and bots and Vladimir Putin's Russian trolls and bots rushed in with completely different and irrelevant positions in defense of right wing, Republican and Donald Trump agenda and sneaked them covertly into the ongoing conversation. They do this to confuse the issues. Having unmasked your agenda, it is good that your completely irrelevant entrance into an important conversation-the Alabama Senatorial election- was met with powerful arguments. The point is that your ad hominem was met by powerful counter arguments and you have no choice but to retreat and perhaps wait for another day! You came with an indefensible and unsustainable view, and that view was called to question by the power of logic and facts about your party -Republican Party and its leader Donald Trump. The point is that you cannot covertly defend a rightwing, Donald Trump's Republican Party that has called to question the meaning of our Christian faith, Christian and family values by open support for a candidate in the Alabama election Roy Moore-who was accused of being a pedophile, sexual abuse and sexual harassment and a candidate who defended slavery by claiming that the period America was "great" was during the slavery period. Since your irrelevant entrance to the conversation was your ad hominem allusion to President Obama, I called your attention to the record of the leader of your party-the Republican party Donald Trump-on women and minorities. The onus is on you to compare the two records. With facts and logic against your sneaky entrance into the conversation you have no option but to abandon your agenda and retreat. I hope you learned a good lesson that it is wrong to come through the backdoor to covertly and sneakily inject an agenda into a serious conversation. If you are convinced of your right wing agenda, sit down and write a full blown essay, publish it so that readers can take you on, on your view. On a civil platform like this-America Magazine, you need to respect writers and the audience, the readers. The ethics of writing and public discourse demand this. A word ought to be enough for the wise.


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