An iconic Democratic leader and civil rights warrior in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is stepping down to make room for the next generation of African-American leadership.
Annette Robinson, Vice Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party and Democratic female district leader for the 56th Assembly district, is moving aside in her roles in the Brooklyn Democratic party to make room for young incomer Kenesha Traynham-Cooper.
Traynham-Cooper is hailed by her predecessors as engaged in the community in a dynamic way. “She lives in the community here, and she’s done some great work working with young people and elders,” said Robinson, also former NYC Council member and NY State Assembly member
Traynham-Cooper and her counterpart – male Democratic District leader Henry Butler, both grew up in the same public housing development, Tompkins Houses in Brooklyn. Butler also replaces Robinson as the new vice chair of the Brooklyn Dems.
Besides knowing Traynham-Cooper since she was born, Butler also applauded her community work. “We need somebody that’s young, but that’s engaged, civically engaged, politically engaged, that’s out there helping the community already. And that’s something [Traynham-Cooper has] been doing,” Butler said.
Though this is clearly the end of a legacy for Democrats in Brooklyn, both Butler and Robinson are satisfied with their choice to bring Traynham-Cooper into leadership for District 56 covering Bed-Stuy and Northern Crown Heights.
“She works for the nonprofit that has a contract with the mayor’s office where they bring resources to the major [public housing] developments of Tompkins, Marcy and Ingersoll houses,” said Butler, referring to Traynham-Cooper’s work with the Mayor’s Action Plan for Community Development, which brings money to public housing developments and works with residents to allocate it to improvement projects.
Robinson added, “This young lady has lived in the community all her life, and has worked with some seasoned people and that’s what makes a difference.”
Still, the new District 56 leader has big shoes to fill. Not only has Robinson served in three branches of government, but she also has worked hard to bring more women into government work. She is hailed as a “political mother” for some, and has become the strength of the party by indoctrinating those she believes can bring the Brooklyn community together. That kind of stability could be in jeopardy if it falls into the wrong hands.
Butler isn’t worried about that. “It was always young people. The leaders are usually the older ones, but it’s always the young people on the front line, actually out there,” he said. And in order to keep fighting for civil rights, women’s rights, police reform and more, the Brooklyn Democrats need fresh blood, he added.