Divided Freedom Party Establishes Agenda
The Freedom Party, as it is constituted, held its platform convention smack dab in the middle of Black History Month. Though the nascent party fell 30,000 votes short of obtaining ballot status, supporters of the concept are forging ahead. An multi-point agenda was previewed by the central committee of the Freedom Party. It was then presented to convention attendees for adoption.
The Freedom Party Preamble is based upon “a structural transformation of the political and economic system. We must structurally change the system that unfairly benefits the rich wealthy elites while producing poverty, unemployment, homelessness, etc., based on race, gender and class oppression.”
The adopted Freedom Party agenda consists of an equitable redistribution of wealth and income; progressive taxation of the wealthy; free public education from pre-K through post baccalaureate; single-payer universal quality health care, a full employment program and the right to a living wage; strong support for the freedom of political prisoners and reparations; affordable housing; full support for the equitable and fair treatment of women in society at large and in the workplace; full support for youth and senior programs; an immediate end to police brutality; and support for clean, renewable energy.
The question of same sex marriage that some say cost the Freedom Party votes for ballot status is not on the adopted agenda. Barron said during last Autumn's gubernatorial debate that the Freedom Party had not taken a position on the issue. As of the 2011 convention, it still hasn't.
Both days of the convention were well attended by enthusiastic supporters. Many activist luminaries expressed support and encouragement, including Ras Baraka, Donald Smith, and Revs. Conrad Tillard, Liz Butler, Lydia Lebron, and Mark Taylor. Most notable for his absence was Alton Maddox.
Rumblings of an impending split in the Freedom Party commenced before petition season began. Alton Maddox called for another attempt (the first was in 1994) to establish a party for Black folk last May. At that time Michael Greys, spokesman for 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, was called upon to lead the Freedom Party slate. By June, Council member Charles Barron led the slate. According to Maddox, Barron asked for the position. Maddox claims to have “personally opposed” the gubernatorial candidacy of Barron in 2010.
The statewide campaign to collect signatures for ballot access and the subsequent campaign were conducted on a shoestring. As the campaign deepened, Maddox states the United African Movement (UAM) received numerous requests for campaign literature, especially upstate. Approximately $4,000 came from individual members of UAM for those materials, which had to repaid. According to one of Maddox's writings, “Councilman Charles Barron had made it clear that only D-12 (December 12 Movement) and the 'Black United Front' would be entitled to any reimbursement or compensation.”
On election day, ballot placement and allegations of other voting irregularities prompted Maddox to seek a recount. Barron disagreed. Maddox states he has been attempting to schedule a sit-down between himself and Barron ever since.
During the weeks leading up to this month's convention, Maddox's objections became more strident, leading to a cacophony of releases in which maddox declared he would not be attending the Freedom Party convention. Instead, he would be attending a UAM business meeting on Sat. Feb. 12, the scheduled full-day convention at the National Black Theater in Harlem. On Sunday Feb 13, Maddox said he would be “making a necessary presentation on Critical Thinking and African History” at United Missionary Baptist Church in East Orange, NJ., while The convention concluded at Nazarene Congregational Church in Brooklyn.
The Freedom Party is pressing forward. There is a Freedom Party coordinator in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. They are seeking candidates to run for elected office in each borough, starting with the seat recently vacated by Assembly member Darryl Towns, who Governor Cuomo has named Commissioner and C.E.O of NYS Homes and Community Renewal.
Originally published in Our Time Press Feb. 24, 2011.
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