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End the duopoly

Opinion: From Obama on down, there’s just empty rhetoric from the black political class amid George Floyd protests

Unlike Martin Luther King and others, they take no risks, and they avoid being held accountable by setting no moral standard

Former President Baack Obama speaks at a virtual town hall on June 3. As protests rock the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, there is a notable absence in the national public discourse: African-American community leaders.

My scholarship in the discipline of black politics can explain why there aren’t any national African-American leaders at this moment, filling roles like Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer and others once did.

In past eras, leaders of the African-American community were instrumental in creating huge social and legal changes, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Sweeping changes were possible because black leaders were willing to call out problems before they became crises, and risk their lives and livelihoods to elevate the social, educational and economic standing of African-Americans.

The risk of direct challenge

When Malcolm X gave his “ The Ballot or the Bullet ” speech in Cleveland in 1964, he challenged the social order of America, in which African-Americans […]

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