Written by Tremaine Jasper, Owner/Managing Editor for PhxSoul.com
On June 1, I wrote an article about the Confederate monuments in Arizona and a local group of Black leaders who are trying to convince the Governor of Arizona to get them removed from public land.
Again I ask, can you believe that we have six Confederate monuments in Arizona? Crazy.
The debate about the Confederate monuments has generated a lot of media attention in Arizona and nationally. Another embarrassing moment for the Grand Canyon state.
One of the things that really stood out to me while recently interviewing Roy Tatem, president of the East Valley NAACP, was when he told me Governor Doug Ducey had not PERSONALLY responded to his efforts to discuss this matter.
I recall in 2015 that PhxSoul.com covered a press conference with State Rep. Reginald Bolding when he called for the governor to help him change the name of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway east of Apache Junction. For those who don’t know, Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Again, no PERSONAL response from Ducey.
I can’t help but to think about Kanye West when he screamed out on television in 2005, “BUSH doesn’t care about Black people!!”
Ducey’s people have advised Bolding and Tatem to “reach out to the respective board or commission” that directly administers the monuments. They say it’s not the governor’s jurisdiction to the make the requested changes.
As we reported in 2015, Ducey’s people told Bolding that he would have need to petition the State Board on Geographical and Historical Names for the name change on the Jefferson Davis Highway.
Regarding the Arizona Confederate Veterans Monument in Wesley Bolin Park, across from the State Capitol, Ducey’s people say that Black leaders would need to talk to the Legislative Governmental Mall Commission.
See the theme here … no personal action from Governor Ducey!
Why can’t Governor Ducey just host a meeting and bring all of the Black activists and the state boards and commissions together in one room to discuss a solution for all of the monuments?
It’s because he does not care about this issue.
Granted, Ducey is the governor and has many responsibilities. I get that the confederate monument debate is not at the top of the food chain here. Education, border security and the opioid crisis are the top priorities.
However, how much time would it take for him to introduce all of the parties involved and see what happens? Just organize ONE MEETING! Frankly, one group session coordinated by Ducey would be enough for me. And yes, Ducey would have to be in the room the whole time! If a solution can’t be hashed out during the one meeting, then Ducey should hold monthly or quarterly conferences until final decisions (yay or nay on the removals) are made.
But again … why won’t Ducey arrange this one meeting? Because it’s not a priority for him. It’s not a win for him.
I highly doubt Ducey wants to be known as the governor who got rid of the Confederate monuments in Arizona. That would probably be political suicide for him in this state because many non-Black Arizona residents have expressed their support FOR the monuments on social media and various news Websites.
One of the main lessons that I hope Black leaders learn from this most recent campaign (and all protests in the past) is that we need to build a financially powerful lobbying firm or political action committee.
That organization needs to become well-known for financially supporting politicians who support our causes. That organization also needs to establish a pipeline for African Americans who want to get involved in politics.
The golden rule in politics is easy to remember — “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
Politicians don’t go out of their way to support folks who don’t support them.
If we had a Black organization that was dumping money into Ducey’s coffers, the bulldozers would have already torn down those Confederate monuments. We’d probably see Ducey hanging out at The Legion or Michael’s at Park Central if he was getting money from African Americans! But alas, we can’t get any love from him because we’re not giving him any love.
We have to be realistic in these times.
We can’t continue to march in the streets, host press conferences and create Change.org petitions and expect to win without any leverage!
Black people have to focus on becoming more financially powerful and politically involved to get what we want in Arizona.