Lenora B Fulani

Campaign Speech - Jan. 2, 1992

Lenora B Fulani
January 02, 1992
C-SPAN Road to the Whitehouse Series
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I would like to begin with a series of announcements. One is that we need folks to volunteer to fundraise for the presidential campaign this weekend. We’ll be meeting at the campaign headquarters, which is on 72nd street, you can get the exact address at the back table. At 10AM on Saturday, you’ll be going out with an experienced campaign worker for a few hours, and we’ll teach you how to raise the money that everybody is intrigued by, in terms of the amounts that we’ve been able to bring forth.

Also, on Monday, January 13th, Kojo Dibusu has a court appearance, for which he needs folks to come to court. If you’re able to do that, would you sign up in the back? It’s at 9:30AM at the Manhattan Criminal Court. They’ll give you the address. Finally, on January 18th and 19th, we’re going to New Hampshire. People will be going up there before then, but we need hundreds of folks to come up to New Hampshire with us that weekend to meet hundreds of folks who live in New Hampshire, who are going to be accompanying me and all of you to the debates. So we’ll talk a little more about that.

I just left the viewing of Darren Brown and Yul Dargan. Darren’s viewing is in Manhattan, and Yul’s funeral is in the Bronx tonight. And these are two of the nine black youth that were killed at the CCNY Rap concert Basketball Game. I just wanted to take a moment, the other kids are Jabal Rainey, 15 years old. Latisha Hurd, 19 years old. Charise Noel, 26 years old, Dirk Swain, 20 years old, Darren, 28, Yul 23, Lenord Nelson, 17 years old, Sonia Williams 20 years old, and Dawn McCain, 20 years old.

I just wanted to acknowledge this because the tragic deaths of these young people at this basketball game, I think was a very brutal example of how young folks of color are related to. Black and Latino youth are regarded as a fast and profitable market in this country, for every manner of entrepreneur, black and white, looking to make a buck off of our kids, and their love for music. The overselling of tickets, and underspending on security preparations, disrespects our children, and creates an environment where young people are literally set up to die, and that’s exactly what happened.

The problem isn’t as some commentators say, the “Rap Scene”. It’s actually the rip-off scene in which some people become concert cattle in the hands of grown up entrepreneurs, who don’t have the human decency to put their safety above the almighty dollar. So, in funding the all-stars talent show network, founding it actually, a youth entertainment cooperative, of which Chanel and Willy are stars. I set out to create an environment in which young people are to be respected and nourished, not abused and exploited.

How can you tell our young people to respect themselves, if you’re not willing to respect them? My presidential campaign is carrying this message all across the country. The hot shot promoters and black-talking show business entrepreneurs, who just can’t get enough of our kids money, whatever the human cost, must share the blame no matter what the chain of events that went down on Saturday night, actually turns out to be. One of the things that we have to guarantee does not happen, is that the kids don’t get stuck with this. What they’re trying to do is figure out a way to say that if you put thousands of people into a building in which they can’t fit, and they happen to be young, and they came to hear rap, and their basketball stars, and they panic and run, and somehow that’s their fault. And that’s a bunch of much stuff. We need to respond and make sure they don’t end up taking the rap.

Saturday, as many of you may know, the Daily News carried a front page article about our campaign, my run for President, and having raised the third largest amount of money, in all (applause). I want to thank you all, and also take the opportunity to thank the 40,000 contributors to this campaign. I think what this represents, is a loud statement by the American people, for a broader range of candidates, and a broader range of issues. I obviously didn’t raise this money because I am a big name candidate. I am one ordinary person, talking to thousands of ordinary people, about the suffering in our lives and what we could possibly do about it.

The media has called repeatedly do ask how could this have happened, why are people giving you the money. And the answer is kind of straight forward. I think we put out the message about the need to have our people, all of our people and all of our issues, represented in the upcoming race, and people responded to that very strongly, because they too are tired of being ripped off by rhetoric, and then after every election year, with nothing to show for their passions, their votes, their concerns and their hopes.

There’s also an old expression that Americans vote their politics. Well, again, we’ve raised the third largest amount in the time of serious recession, and actually in a depression. And that a real statement about the hard work that our people are doing, and also the seriousness of the responses. The headlines therefore in the daily news, and all the press we received since then, belongs to the country who rarely make the front page.

Our dialogue tonight, for now and henceforth and forevermore, must be to continue to keep that up. We need to be on the front pages, because these are our issues. The other thing that I just wanted to talk about briefly, is my decision to run in the democratic primary in New Hampshire. Actually, after the candidates who they tried to project as the major candidates stepped forward, my phone started to ring and a number of people said to me, Dr. Fulani, would you please consider running in the democratic primary in New Hampshire? Because if you don’t do that, the issues and concerns of ordinary folks, will not be included.

So, after listening to people and sort of mulling it over, and talking it over with Dr. Fred Newman, my campaign manager and other people on this campaign staff, I made a trip up to New Hampshire about three weeks ago, and I brought lots of long johns, and I went out and went into the malls and I knocked on peoples doors. White middle income, and white working class folks. And one of the things that I was taken back by, was the impact of the recession there. People are selling their houses almost every other home has a for sale sign. There were many stories of foreclosures going on, people were literally suffering. It’s a state that has been obviously hit very hard.

The other thing that kept coming up, were issues about the educational system, how it was failing, how many families couldn’t afford to send their kids on class trips, how science labs had been closed down, and 500 people were being laid off weekly.

I told the people in the white community that they’re also about my work in the Harlem community, and inner cities around this country, with African American and Latino folks, about the struggles in terms of the child welfare agencies, with kids being taken illegally from Black and Latino women, primarily for the crime of being poor. I told them about the numbers of young people and their families that I represented, who had died as a result of cops killing them, and nobody being indicted, or in the case of Mary Mitchell, the cop getting indicted, but not convicted in sight of overwhelming evidence. I said to them that the rumor is that white people in New Hampshire, don’t really give a damn about the fact that black youth that are being murdered in Harlem and Bed Stuy, and I didn’t believe that. In fact I thought that they were misrepresented, and I know that we are.

The response from people to this message, after getting over us knocking on their doors in zero degree weather, in snow and rain, was very powerful and very moving. What people said was that they did care about what was happening to these young people. Not only did they care about that, but they cared about a host of issues that we had in common. They invited me in and we sat down and talked. And one of the responses that we had to my initial theories to whether or not they thought I should run, was that I shouldn’t be doing that.

Our plan for the New Hampshire primary is to put together a series of town hall meetings, the first one will be in New Hampshire on January 19th, in the afternoon. Where we will bring the Harlem community, people from Bed Stuy, and Queens from around this state and New Jersey, Boston, other places. Together with white, middle income working class people in New Hampshire, lock you all in a room, and force people to go beyond the barriers that have been constructed to keep us at each other’s throats.

As I told folks up there, the Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C. who sip martinis together, have a lot more in common with each other than they do with any of us. What they end up doing is manipulating the situation so that the people who are experiencing the recession, white folks in New Hampshire and losing their homes, think that the black community here who they’ve been told are on welfare and stealing from them, are responsible for it. And we’ve been told that the reason that we don’t have jobs, we don’t have opportunities, and we’re on welfare, many of us are, many of us aren’t, whatever, that the situation is what it is, is because white folks up in New Hampshire and in other parts go everything.

So what we end up doing is hating each other, while they literally get away without doing anything for anybody in this country, and that was really dumb. We had to figure out how to sit down in rooms together and figure out what’s in our best interest, and how we were going to force those issues on to the political agenda, and not be manipulated by this kind of radicalistic divisions.

The other thing that I think is very compelling, as a way of bringing people together, and we have a history of white and black coming together, when we’ve been under pressure, we’ve come together in the Union movement, we came together in the Civil Rights movement, and whites didn’t join that movement simply to help the black community, it in fact helped the country. It made the country open to all kinds of issues, the issues that women were struggling with, issues that people in the Latino, and Native American and Asian communities. Issues of the Gay and Lesbian community. Issues of ordinary people, raising the very important issue of inclusion and participation. One of the compelling things is that this is the first generation of young people, black or white, who will not be in the position to make more money, ever in the history of this country, than their families.

Some people who have big, big, bucks, are very nonchalant about that. They’re not looking at it as a serious problem, but we need to be. I stood in a living room of a white woman who is actually a republican, who said to me, when I was growing up, as a young person, I was told that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I could go to whatever college I wanted to go to, I could just go for it. She said, I could find myself telling my youngsters in 1990/91 in America that they have to hold back. They have to go wherever they want to go. They have to struggle for a whole lot less.

That’s a heavy duty message to be giving to our kids. And if white folks are telling their kids that message, you know what’s being told in the Black and Latino communities around this country. So these are some of the issues that we are going to be talking about. We need to force dialogue about these issues, not only from us, but from the so called major party candidates.

One way to think about what’s going on in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, is that it’s a tribunal. It’s to that tribunal that issues of concern of our people will be brought. We’re going to New Hampshire to put our struggles on the table, and we’re calling for justice. Basically what we’re trying to do is bring to the attention of the people of that state, what hundreds of thousands of people are struggling with around the Nation.

Earlier today I received a call from some young people out in Far Rockaway, another racial murder. The young man whose name is Johnny Kelly, a black youth who got into a verbal exchange with some white youth on the street, who took out a baseball bat and literally beat him to death. He’s dead. He died on Wednesday. One of the fights that’s going on around this issue, is whether or not this is a racial murder or not. That’s the debate. So hell yes it’s a racial murder, we know it’s a racial murder. We don’t have to get into that debate. And if in fact the issue is one that is racial murder, the issue is where we are going to go from there.

What we have to do is take this issue into the democratic primary up in New Hampshire, and not debate about the racism in this murder, it is racist through and through, but to raise it as an issue that not only am I speaking about, but who the candidates who are running for office who call themselves major party candidates must be speaking about. We can’t let them determine the terrain from which they speak. We can’t let them narrow the issue of people in this country to rhetorical discussions about things that we can’t even understand. The experience of sitting in a room watching them talk about issues, and when they get finished you scratch your head thinking, well do they believe in health care, or don’t they? Do they support the death penalty, or don’t they? You never know because these people are so skilled at saying a lot of words than saying nothing.

We have to force onto the political issue, onto the agenda, the killing of Johnny Kelly. And we have to force these people who want us to take them seriously, as major party candidates, to give their decisions on how they feel about these kinds of incidents occurring time and time again in this country. Much more often than we should ever tolerate, and there is obviously an increase.

One of the things that we have to make clear is that the murder of Johnny Kelly is not a local issue. It is a national issue. We tried in the 1960’s to force the issue of racism onto the national agenda. That’s a lot with the fights in the streets and the demonstrations, what Dr. King and others were about. To make the issue of racial injustice a national issue. We failed at doing that. We have a shot at doing that in 92’, and we have to do that. So were having a hearing, and the court is now in session, and it’s called the New Hampshire Democratic Primary. And what I’m doing is putting the Black agenda, one to the stage of that primary, and what the white working class community up there has said is bring it on in.

When I had spoken to them about Roxanne McKay, when I’d spoken to them about Berta, when I’d spoken to them about Billy, in fact, when some of these young people came up and spoke themselves, what people stood up and said is this is unacceptable. We don’t want this kind of behavior in this country. We must do something about it. So the white working class is saying, bring these issues on in, let’s have a fight about them, let’s force these politicians to take it seriously. The Democratic primary on the other hand is saying, well, these issues don’t count.

The head of the Democratic Party is a man whose name is Chris Spirou. I had breakfast with him about 3-4 weeks ago. I went up there to speak to him about my inclusion in the debates. They came up with a criteria before the debates. One particular debate initially that they were having in Ashura, two Thursdays ago, that said, in order to be in those debates you had to have held a statewide office. By virtue of that criteria, Jesse Jackson or Gebhart wouldn’t have been able to debate in 1988. Dwight Eisenhower who became President of the United States, wouldn’t have been able to be in the debates. And as my lawyer points out, George Washington wouldn’t have been able to be in the debates.

Anyway, I said very clearly to Mr. Spirou, I understand very clearly that this was your criteria then, but I qualify for matching funds. Matching funds has a relationship overall to a Presidential run, so you should include that by virtue again of this criteria, Eugenie McCarthy, who is again a lovely man and I think he should be in the debate, but he was included having gotten 1/8 of the votes that I received in the 1988 Presidential race, and I was not. This man sort of hummed and hauled and smiled and did whatever, but he refused to budge. So we went to the debate, some of the people in this room were with us. I had brought folks up. And it turns out that Mr. Spirou had hired extra people, so we hear cops, to monitor our behavior and these folks were told that we were going to be disruptive and violent, and they were all over the place, which we later found out.

So we thought that we were going to be doing a demonstration outside which I was down for, and the people that we were with decided to go in, so we went in. And as I sat there deciding what to do, Larry Agran, who is another candidate, who at one time was mayor of Irvine, California, who was also “excluded,” from the debates because he was not the right kind of candidate, he stood up at the very beginning, and insisted that he be let in, raised the issue of inclusion and democracy. This wonderful thing happened. People in the audience, who they now have said are all Fulani supporters, said let the man on stage.

We want to have an open dialogue, he has every right to be there. So I was sort of sitting there watching this whole thing happen like that, and all the sudden the women who were with me stood up and started chanting Fulani. Now when your people call, you’ve got to respond. Because of the pressure from the floor, one of the Democrats said to Lenora, you know, come on up. So I knew that they knew if they had known that I was in the audience they would want me, so I did not skip a beat. Anyway, I ended up on the stage, and it was quite something. The real message that we have to get from that is we got on that stage, and people have to be very clear about this, because the people in that audience, people in New Hampshire, demanded that that happen. If we got on that stage, we can get on a whole bunch of stages through people’s power. We don’t need the Democrats to make up their mind. We need to put all kinds of pressure on them.

Two petitions have been circulated and actually sent to the Democratic National Party, to Ron Brown and those other forces, because the state Democratic Party in New Hampshire and Chris Spirou, are in violation of the Democratic parties charter. They’re violating the delegate selection process for the convention. Because according to their charter, all of their events are supposed to be public and open.

They also have Affirmative Action clauses that they’re violating. So, not only did they try to keep us out of that debate, and with the help of the people, ended up on the stage, they also, Mr. Spirou had another press conference where he tried to flex some anti- Democratic, inconclusive muscle, stating that on Saturday that you can only come to the debates, you can only be in the audience if you receive an invitation. This is what democracy has come to folks, you have got to get invited to come to hear candidates talk about the issues.

They’re going to take care to make sure that certain disruptors are not present. One of the things Jay Rockefeller almost had a heart attack, because he comes from a family that isn’t used to ordinary people. He kept sitting there saying, this is so tense, this is so uncomfortable, this is so whatever, and what I pointed out to him, was that this is Democracy. This was people taking a stand and making moves, and I’m not used to it. From his lofty place of wealth, he’s used to telling people what to do. He doesn’t know what ordinary people, black or white, want in order to make moves in this nation.

So this struggle continues, and as far as I’m concerned, the decision has already been made about our inclusion, so I want everybody in this room, plus others, to join us and join the people of New Hampshire, to go to the debates, take our your best clothes, as long as their warm, and we want you up there for the 18th and 19th.

There is obviously a lot more to be said, but I want to hear reports from people who we’re with us, we are going to give brief statements, and then I’m going to fundraise so we can continue to give the people something to talk about. Then we’re going to open up for questions from the audience, from the community, from our people, and I’m really thrilled to see you all. I’m looking forward to this year. This is going to be a year for People’s Politics, in the 1992 Presidential Campaign. We’re going to do everything that we have to do, go wherever we have to go, throw down in whatever ways we have to throw down, in order to guarantee that we do not come out of ‘92 with issues that we care about as a people of this country. From National Healthcare, to AIDS, to police brutality, to racial violence, to the attacks on Women, on people of color, all of it. Making sure that those issues are not only on the agenda, but that someone is working very seriously to resolve them on our behalf.

That’s very important. In order to do that, we have got to do it together. That’s the only way that we can accomplish this, and I challenge the people of Harlem, people who are fighters around the country to stand up and join this fight with us. So, it’s great to see you and I look forward to our battles together, and I’ll see you in the streets of New Hampshire.

Speech from http://www.c-span.org/video/?25627-1/fulani-campaign-speech.