Harlem was long considered the epicenter of black political power in this city, but now Brooklyn, with three newly elected black candidates, has become the new home for much of the city’s black politics, according to the Daily News.
Public advocate elect Letitia James, the first black woman elected to citywide office (above); Ken Thompson, soon to become Brooklyn’s first black district attorney; and Eric Adams, who will become the borough’s first black president, are all natives of central Brooklyn.
However, Harlem has produced three black politicians who rose to great prominence: New York’s first black mayor, David Dinkins; the state’s first black governor, David Paterson; and Rep. Charles Rangel, who was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The News notes that Harlem’s 1960s-era “Gang of Four” coalition also included Paterson’s father, former Secretary of State Basil Paterson, and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton.
But as gentrification and immigration have changed Harlem’s population, the majority of its residents are no longer black.
“We have seen the official election now begin to reflect what many of us have known for some time,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told the News. “Harlem is not the Harlem it was of Adam Clayton Powell or even David Dinkins. The population shift has gone from Harlem to Brooklyn.”
Brooklyn is also home to some of the city’s most ambitious up-and-coming black politicians: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries; Assemblyman Karim Camara, chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus; and City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who recently announced his intention to run for Council speaker.
But these black political elites don’t intend to ally themselves as closely as Harlem’s “Gang of Four.” Both James and Adams supported Thompson’s rival, longtime D.A. Charles Hynes, and James worked for Jeffries’ rival, Roger Green, during Assembly races in the early 2000s. And Jeffries and Adams are known to dislike each other, the News said.
Brooklyn the New Center of Black Political Power in New York City [NY Daily News]
Image by Thomas Good/NLN via Wikimedia Commons