After Congress adopted a national holiday honoring King in 1986, Governor Bruce Babbitt signed an executive order establishing the state holiday because the national holiday only was observed by federal employees. Less than a year later, Babbitt's successor, Evan Mecham, repealed it.

In 1986, Mecham told Stewart that blacks didn't need another holiday. "What you folks need are jobs," the Arizona governor told Stewart, according to a 1989 New Times interview with the minister.

Stewart and local civil rights leaders led mass protests and put political pressure on Arizona lawmakers. The fight wouldn't end until voters statewide reinstated the symbolic honor in 1992.

The debacle cost the state the Super Bowl in 1993 and millions of dollars in tourism revenue, and it gave the nation an early glimpse of Arizona intolerance.

State officials' refusal to formally acknowledge King was an attack on its black population — just as the series of laws that unfairly target Hispanic-Americans and undocumented immigrants are attacks on its Latino population.

Will Latinos, through their larger segment of the population, gain the political clout that has eluded the smaller African-American population in Arizona? It's already happening, though Latinos have more work to do before their representation matches their numbers.

Yet the immediate question in District 8 is which candidate Latinos will support in the absence of one of their own — the white woman who's married to a big-name Mexican-American lawmaker or the young, gay African-American who's garnered an impressive amount of brown support already?

Because it's looking as though the old-guard civil rights leader and black preacher won't make the cut — making politicos wonder if Robinson should end his candidacy and throw his support to the upstart.

But do the black elders really want a black leader to win the seat if he's not their black leader?


For the better part of the past decade, Arizona politicians like Governor Jan Brewer, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ousted state Senate President Russell Pearce, and County Attorney Bill Montgomery have shifted discrimination to the state's Latinos.

And Warren Stewart has been right there opposing such policies.

Which is why it was strange when New Times discovered that Stewart's campaign had landed the support of Montgomery, known for doling out to undocumented immigrants heavy-handed punishments that all but ensure their deportation ("Same as the Old Boss," February 7).

Despite several cleverly couched statements, the Stewart campaign finally denounced the endorsement.

"The Warren Stewart campaign appreciates Bill Montgomery's endorsement, but we are not accepting [it]," campaign consultant Mario Diaz said. "We are not accepting it because his philosophy of enforcing the law and his priorities are not parallel with those of Pastor Stewart."

A few hours later, Montgomery claimed there never was a formal endorsement, just discussions initiated by Stewart's camp.

But why was Stewart's campaign in a dialogue with his apparent political enemy?

Scott Phelps, once press secretary to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, commented on Stewart's behalf: "No campaign, in the history of campaigns, has ever relied only on the support of people who agree with the candidate 100 percent of the time. This one is no different . . . Warren stands where Warren stands, his integrity always intact."

But critics contend that Stewart also has consorted with the dark side in other ways.

Such as accepting a $430 campaign contribution from Jason Rose, a political consultant to the public official seen as the chief tormentor of Latinos, Joe Arpaio.

Such as the endorsement he captured from former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker, an ardent SB 1070 supporter and failed Republican candidate for Arizona's Ninth Congressional District seat.

Such alliances make Stewart a hard sell in most Latino circles — grassroots groups tend to make it their mission to elect candidates with staunch immigrant-friendly agendas.

For example, Rise of South Phoenix volunteers knocked on more than 41,000 doors in 2011 and 2012 in support of black, brown, and progressive white candidates who favor humane immigration reform.

They were directly responsible for turning out 3,500 new voters in 2012 — individuals who hadn't voted in the 2008 presidential election.

These may not register as major political gains statewide, but in Phoenix City Council districts, where voter turnout traditionally is low, such new voters can make the difference between winning and losing.

Robinson's campaign operatives are interested not only in getting their candidate elected, but in overall change in Arizona, and they believe that persuading people who traditionally have felt disenfranchised to go the polls is the way to do it.

"If I can convince someone to care about a City Council seat, [he or she] will most likely come back to vote in a governor's race or for another statewide race," says Stanford Prescott, a Robinson field director.

All three major candidates in District 8 have attracted dedicated teams of political volunteers, community organizers, and political figures.

Team Awesome, a group of student activists who led District 5 Councilman Danny Valenzuela into office in 2011 by bringing in new Latino voters, is officially staying out of the District 8 race, which features no actual Latino candidate. But some of its members have peeled off to work for Robinson while others are working with Widland Gallego.

A few Rise of South Phoenix members support Widland Gallego, but the organization squarely is in Robinson's corner.

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27 comments
kanderssohn
kanderssohn

Very confusing article as far as keeping names straight. Page 10 introduces us to Lawrence Robinson as the adopted grandson of Phoenix's first black judge and recently elected member of the Roosevelt Elementary School District governing board. Then on page 12 Lawrence Robonson is identified as a gay professor at the Phoenix School of Law. A photo caption on the same page refers to Pastor Stewart Robinson as Councilman Michael Johnson's hand-picked successor. Then on page 22 at the top center of the page in orange font there is a reference to Pastor Warren Robinson. So we have a Lawrence Robinson, a Warren Stewart, a Stewart Robinson and a Warren Robinson. Nice proof-reading job by someone... 

gailross5555
gailross5555

The old divide and conquer along racial lines.  Come on people stand together as one, open your heart.  Hispanics have obviously been targeted but no one knows that better than blacks about targeting either.   Just as Martin Luther King said so eloquently  An Injustice for one is an injustice for all!!!  There is strength in unity of all people forget race --we are the 99% until they divide along racial lines then they stay on top with all their injustice and fraud.  Come together and peacefully non comply.  Stop the me me me and start the us us us us!!

aschmidt01
aschmidt01

Does a church loose its tax status, by endorsing a political movement?

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I've been in numerous community meetings in South Phoenix - as a person of limited pigment, I am quite offended by the me, me, me I hear.  I've stopped going until I start to hear some US US US!  We're all in the same boat - building divides along skin color lines only helps the corporate masters which seek to exploit us in South Phoenix.  I have noticed there is not one shred of difference between the character of the individual because of skin color or language.  We need to stop this crap and start working together or we are going to get screwed individually.  For god's sake - we got a multi-racial President people - Let's Work Together!

taysearch
taysearch

I agree with Rev. Jarrett Maupin, II that the older generation of African Americans have not invested in youth leadership.  Very few people have put together programs for leadership development.  I believe we have depended on our schools too much and the school programs have not helped to develop young Black leaders.  That must come from the community.  It is not just pastors and elected officials who must lead.  We must all make ourselves responsible for developing young Black leadership.  This article has certainly been a wake up call to me.  I am supporting Pastor Warren Stewart, Sr.  I believe he is the best person to represent District 8.  I will also be supporting Black Youth Leadership Development.

patrickbrennan
patrickbrennan

As a resident of District 8, I found this article offensive on many fronts. I'd go into further detail here, but why be redundant? You can see what folks are saying, including me, on our south Phoenix FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SoPhxAZ

acg070776
acg070776

As a resident of District 8 for the past 4 years, yes, I've seen some improvements in development in the area, particularly in the 24th Street and Baseline intersection.  I'm not sure how much, if at all, Michael Johnson was involved in bringing that development to the area, but it's a good thing.  However, my biggest gripe with living in South Phoenix is the piss poor police response time.  I, as well as a few of my friends who live in the area, have either had our homes broken into or had attempted break-ins, and it consistently takes the police at least 30-45 minutes to respond to the calls from our alarm companies.  That is just not acceptable.  I haven't seen Michael Johnson do anything to address this, nor have I seen the problem get better.  I do, however, notice that Michael Johnson is partying every weekend either at the Legion or Michael's Cafe, so maybe that's more important to him at this point.  Although I appreciate Michael Johnson and the "old guard" for their efforts up to this point, it's time for them to step aside. 

phxsoul
phxsoul

Blacks are also losing power in Arizona because our "old guard" never thought to establish a pipeline for the younger generation to get interested in politics and then take over their seats. I respect our previous and current Black leaders but they have all dropped the ball in this regard.

leewah
leewah

1) Corey Woods, not Cory Woods.

2) Art Hamilton was elected at 24, not 25.  Because the age of eligibility to serve in the House was 25, he had to watch the first few weeks of his first session from the spectators' gallery before he could be sworn in.

3) One possible means of addressing the dilution of black representation on the council is to expand the number of council seats.  When the Phoenix city council was changed from at-large to an eight-district system in the early 1980s, the population of Phoenix was about 800,000; that's about 100,000 people per district.  As the population has almost doubled to about 1,500,000, the number of districts has remained eight.  There are now approximately 187,500 people per district, which is more people than the entire population of next-door Tempe.  Proponents of keeping city government close to the people, including leaders in the black community, can make a cogent argument for expanding the council to 16 seats.

don.dodondo
don.dodondo

Blacks are losing their political power all over the country because of the DNCs obsession on "Latino Issues".  First the Latinos were only taking their jobs, but now they are taking their political power as well.  Oh well, this is what they get for blindly voting democrat in every election.

Phoenician
Phoenician

@kanderssohn I know all those names and I can assure you that there aren't any proof reading mistakes. The #Phx8 race is really, really, complicated.

dogbiter
dogbiter

You're a boring detail, and obviously feel burned by this.

sarum
sarum

@ExpertShot Thank you.  Separate but equal did not work then and it will not work now in the reverse either.  Deliciously empowering as it is, it also serves as a box and makes those who holds those values very predictable and easily manipulated.  Admittledy it is a wondrous box.  Big enough to spend a lifetime lost in, but box - cage is what it is.

aschmidt01
aschmidt01

The me, them, comes directly from the Democrat party. Divide and hate, it comes from the head, down.

sarum
sarum

@taysearch Perhaps true but wherever you look even outside the black community you will find this same failure to bring up young leaders.  There is something more afoot here.  The educational points above combined with our mass marketed popular culture as well as a lazy mindedness  brought on by physical poisoning that most want to consider tin foil but is very real and has very real effects on brain function.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@taysearch They have to get past the "Pull up your damn britches, Son" part of the conversation and that usually is a buzz  kill right there!

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Offensive, why? The article was right on! The old guard is attempting to squeeze out anybody who doesn't kowtow to it. And what is this white woman doing posing as a Latino to get votes. We're on to you, lady! We all know what you're about Brennan. Mad because Alonzo didn't call you. Wake up and smell the coffee!

jimmie.munoz
jimmie.munoz

@acg070776I'm a supporter of Lawrence Robinson. I think you'd really like to hear about his stance on public safety issues.  Come meet Lawrence and talk to him in person this Saturday at 10am at 6645 S. Central Ave., Phx. 

patrickbrennan
patrickbrennan

@leewah I agree 100% that the council should be expanded vastly. 16 seats would be in keeping with historical ratios, but I'd settle for 12 at this point. Look at D6 as a visually obvious example of a district that makes very little sense. The others are also spread thin across diverse landscapes and communities. Our downtown, for instance -- an area that matters to us all -- hangs in the balance of a few council members who also must work on very different issues elsewhere. 

shirtless
shirtless

@don.dodondo A better explanation is that intelligent Democrats (yes, there are a few) and the rest of society are finally beginning to realize that blacks are generally a hopeless cause.  Despite decades of "affirmative action" and other special preferences, they are no further along than they were in the days of segregation, and in many cases, they are much worse off.  According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 69% of blacks are born out of wedlock (compared to 26% for whites), and while black women account for only 17% of live births, 36% of all abortions are performed on black women.  According to the Center for Disease Control, 44% of the people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are black.  According to the FBI, blacks, who are only 12% of the population, commit 38% of the homicides.  If there were no blacks in our population, our murder by handgun rate would fall to that of Finland, and gun control would be a moot issue.  One reason we do not notice the black crime problem is that much of it is black-on-black.  Black-on-white is next in prevalence.  White-on-black is relatively rare, so much so, that when it happens, it makes front-page headlines.

Blacks have ruined once-great cities, such as Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Memphis, Oakland, and others.  A group that has caused so many problems does not deserve, and should not expect, "political power."  Indeed, our society needs to wake up and get the black crime problem under control before it destroys our society.

sarum
sarum

IOW, many leaders can say that they found nobody coming along under them that was worthy of the time investment to train in leadership.  The same forces that are breaking apart families are also dividing communities.  But I also think that in some cases, the financial reward of retaining leadership is too enticing and then again, many of the choices these days are no-win situations.

taysearch
taysearch

@ExpertShot @taysearch I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but what I mean is give a group of youth a project to carry out.  Teach them Robert's Rules of Order, how to write an agenda, take minutes, and carry out an assessment of the project.  That's just an example of what can be done.

What is it that you mean?

patrickbrennan
patrickbrennan

@Dogbiter Please tell me what I'm all about... and who you are. Alonzo didn't call me because I'm not a part of this story. Please feel free to take the dialog to our FB page, using your true identity. I'd love to discuss the issues with you or anyone else, but let's please get past the labels first.

taysearch
taysearch

@bgray59 @taysearch Fortunately for me, I began to be taught civics lessons in the third grade, just how to decide whether to have a classroom Halloween and Christmas party or a Christmas party and a Valentine's party.  The problem in our community is that the civics lesson did not carry over to adulthood for many of us.  It's something we learned in school and we left it there when we graduated.  Of course, the fact that it is not even taught today is even worse, but we control institutions where we can teach civics lessons that help our community.  Or we can demand that the schools we pay for teach civics again.

bgray59
bgray59

@taysearch That was covered in my High School freshman civics class.  But that is no longer taught in public school.

 
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