What about Power to the People?

In this effort to save Woodson’s journal from the fate of losing its independence, I have been on an effort to get back on the governing board of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).  I would like to give you definitive news on my candidacy for the ASALH’s board but it all depends of the board means by democracy.

Despite being the immediate past president, I was denied a place on the ballot as a corporate member without explanation and certainly there were no irregularities with my service as any audit will show.  I’m decided a good government type.  This is oppositional politics at its worse, but I’ve been around and have thick skin.

In my write-in campaign, I asked my supporters to write me in for a general seat because the electronic ballot omitted a space for a write in for that position. Now we have always had write-in candidates for all positions, but somehow this year, the year I applied to be a corporate member, no go. Now in ASALH corporate includes almost anything, including leadership in not-for-profit, so I should have been gold as a candidate, write in or otherwise. (I spent 13 years participating governing and heading a not-for-profit–the organization in question!) Turns out, someone must have written me in for a corporate seat on a requested paper ballot–bless them. So I was a write in for two seats, corporate and regular.

I did not win the regular seat, but got much love from supporters. It mattered from what I can tell. Many supported me and others, so it mattered. And my hat goes off to the winners.

Now there was only one person running for a corporate seat though each ASALH class has two corporate seats available. So my one write-in corporate vote should make me the winner! I told the nomination committee co-chair, Barbara Spencer Dunn, that I consider myself the winner of that second seat. But what is democratic and fair no longer prevails in ASALHland. As I argued, if there is only one candidate in an “election” for a seat there is no election without the possibility of a write-in candidate. The person running for that seat, a woman named Gladys Mack, is virtually an antidemocratic appointment, breaking tradition in ASALH elections. I have never met her, and I’m told she is wholly new to ASALH, so I have no opinion of her, but I do have an opinion of a lack of democracy. I suggested that the right thing to do is to honor democratic results. If Gladys Mack defeated me as the write-in candidate for the first of two seats, we are both legitimate winners–me for the second seat. This is what wisdom would dictate.

So if democracy has a place in ASALH, I won. If not, the board just threw the will of the people aside and appointed someone rather that elected them. These folks, I hope, will not become a veritable regime. I guess they are deadset on not getting right with Woodson. But we will prevail. There are sturdy people joining the board.