Black politics has undergone a great shift. Some have even argued that the era of Black politics has ended. It is important to gauge and document these shifts in the political scene, especially as they are happening. Polite On Society has reached out to former Congressman Major R. Owens for his thoughts on how the political scene has shifted. Owens represented the 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn for over 20 years. Here, we speak with him about his book The Peacock Elite: A Case Study of The Congressional Black Caucus. Among other issues raised are the Wisconsin electoral outcome, and the dangers of not holding Black politicians accountable to their constituency.
Polite On Society: Could you tell us about The Peacock Elite?
Major Owens: The Peacock Elite is a personal account of my 24 years of service in the US Congress (1983 – 2007). It highlights important events with certain intimate behind the scene details. Beyond the facts there are analysis and strongly expressed opinions and judgments. In the book I classify the members of the Congressional Black Caucus as “peacocks” or “workhorses”; those who constantly seek headlines and publicity; and those who work seriously and solely to develop policies and legislation. I advocate the achievement of a “productive balance” between these two extremes.
POS: Given your years of experience, name one major way in which the Congressional Black Caucus has advocated for its core constituency.
MO: One major advocacy initiative of the Congressional Black Caucus is authoring the annual Alternative Budget, which sets forth the priorities for funding programs that are most needed in Black communities throughout the nation. This activity is more important than ever since Blacks lost 52% of their wealth between 2008 and 2011.