IDC Vs. WFP: Hamilton Fights For Black History Education

Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights yesterday became the scene of a clash of political ideas between the Working Families Party (WFP)/Progressive Democrats and the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), as competing rally’s took place on the prestigious campus.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton

State Senator Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn) led over a 100 local residents, activists and community leaders in the “Black Minds Matter Rally” yesterday, in support of his bill, S. 5454, requiring black history studies in every school and at all grade levels in the state.

The Black Minds Matter rally touched on the themes of a united commitment to Black History and education beyond Black History Month, a dedication to stand in solidarity with students and educators who faced the challenges of ignorance and racism, and a commitment to fight the school to prison pipeline.

“Black History Month 2018 may have ended, but our commitment to Black History education endures. Our Black Minds Matter rally is one part of this broader effort to advance inclusion of all New Yorkers. Alongside my colleagues, I will continue to focus on delivering results that mean more and more New Yorkers are able to participate fully in the civic life, cultural life, and economic life of our dynamic state,” said Hamilton.

The Black Minds Matter Rally outside Medgar Evers College came as the Working Families Party was holding its own rally inside the college. Photo by Kelly Mena

Hamilton went on to state his continued pledge towards improving and fostering black minds and education across the borough, highlighting the recent threats from the Department of Education to close WEB Dubois High School and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School.

“Our commitment to W. E. B. DuBois High School, right here in Crown Heights, a school the Department of Education planned to close and remove W. E. B. DuBois’ name – a name with a deep connections to Brooklyn, a renowned scholar, a co-founder of the NAACP, and a civil rights hero – our commitment to W. E. B. DuBois High School endures. Our commitment to Medgar Evers College Preparatory School, a two-minute walk away, a school the Department of Education tried to dismantle, and we joined together as a community and made them think again. Our commitment to Medgar Evers College Prep endures,” continued Hamilton.

Coincidentally though the rally took place at the exact same time and place as the scheduled WFP 2018 Campaign Kick-Off event, which featured an address by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and an introduction to seven of the eight progressive candidates challenging the current IDC members.

Inside, the atmosphere was “anti-IDC” as many of the day’s speakers called the controversial group of Democrats, “Trump Democrats” and touted their commitment to the party if elected, according to KCP reporter Alanna Phillips.

Hamilton is currently facing opposition from self-professed progressive candidate Zellnor Myrie, who himself has sited Hamilton’s position in the IDC as a top motivating factor in his decision to run for office.

However, Hamilton’s office claims that the coincidence in competing rally’s was not planned and that it happened to be a consequence of calendar scheduling. In fact, a source close to Hamilton was quick to point out that WFP didn’t have a presence on the college until Sunday’s rally.

Assembly Member Diana Richardson

Another point that went unnoticed amongst the dustup was absent Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush), a sponsor of the Black History Education Bill and a formidable voice of the African-American community.

The absence of the Central Brooklyn legislator might have been planned, as Richardson became the first legislator to be solely elected on the WFP party line back in 2015.

The only moment in which the WFP rally inside did come up at the outside rally, came close to the end of the event, as Hamilton was quick to note the lack of progressive support in the black community.

“Right across the street here, supposedly the Working Families Party is supposed to have our backs. Where are they at? Where are the progressive folks at? Right across the street we have the Working Families Party, no black people over there but their supposed to be representing us?? I’m pro-black and I am against anyone who is trying to hoodwink us and tell us that their for us. But they are not here today,” said Hamilton

The Black History Education bill passed the State Senate last year and is still struggling to pass in the Assembly where the measure has faced pushed back from education advocates.

“Black minds mattered to us yesterday. Black minds matter to us today. Black minds will matter to us tomorrow,” added Hamilton.

More from Around New York