By: CHRISTINA CLARK
Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice presidential candidate and running mate to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, made a stop at the Chicory Café in South Bend Monday, Oct. 24.
He visited for a question and answer session, during which the community could engage with the candidate about their concerns. While the café ran business as usual in one half of the café, the other side was filled with community members who had come to hear what Baraka had to say.
Paul Blaschko, University of Notre Dame Ph. D., candidate, gave the welcome to the event. Second District City Councilwoman Regina Williams-Preston (D) voiced concerns that she felt fell flat on the major two-party candidate’s ears.
“53 percent [of South Bend residents] are living at or below the poverty range. 53 percent!” Williams-Preston told the crowd in her introduction.
Williams-Preston also addressed the issue of racial profiling, racist police practices and racial injustices. “We have to start getting smarter,” she said. “If you are not experiencing those things, then we need to start to share and understand what is happening here in South Bend. This is traumatizing for people who sit next to you every single day.”
Williams-Preston also addressed education. “You can’t learn if you’re not in school,” she said.
Members of the Nu Black Power Movement, Blu Casey and Nia Okereke, also spoke. Casey, founder of the Nu Black Power Movement, organized Baraka’s visit to South Bend. These speakers focused on the issues facing the black community and how the Green Party’s support and vision could lend to fixing these issues.
“We are committed to having a living wage of $15 an hour and more. We are committed to this because we are committed to dignity, the whole idea that the whole notions is that it is a human right to be able to subsist. A human right to a job, that’s fundamental for us,” said Bakara. “We understand that the economy is going to continue to reduce individuals who are not going to be able to live at a level of cultured dignity that should be required. The program is part of a process towards real change.”
Bakara showed support for the Nu Black Power Movement with Casey and Okereke, and addressed the concern of White Supremacy in America and the inequality in treatment that black individuals and communities face on a daily basis on many levels.
Bakara, who spent from 1969 to 1971 in South Bend and attended Riley High School in that time, spoke of what he and his party stand for and look to change.
“It is interesting to me that many of the things I heard already this morning and that when I came to talk, are some of the same issues and concerns that we had in 1971 here in South Bend, including the school to prison pipeline,” Baraka said, “Now in those days we didn’t call it that. We didn’t have a term, but the impact and the consequences were, in fact, the same.”
Baraka feels that the Green Party has begun to pick up momentum as the election draws near.
“People are beginning to not allow the fear mongering to captivate their unprincipled vote. They are understanding that in order to have a viable democracy—they are really seriously understanding that if we are going to have a powerful democracy, then they have to exercise a principled position, that in order to get something you have to vote for something,” said Baraka of the Green Party’s momentum, as voters appear to be searching for another person to cast their vote for outside of the front runners in the presidential race: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Kevin Fick, supporter in attendance at Chicory Café, expressed his former support of Bernie Sanders, and his newfound support of Jill Stein, Ajamu Bakara and the Green Party.
“I’ve seen him [Bakara] speak two other times and this was the most impressive. This was phenomenal.”
Stein and Baraka will not appear on the Indiana Ballot, but Stein is a qualified write-in candidate in Indiana, meaning that a vote for their ticket will be counted and recorded.
Tuesday, Nov. 8, is the date for the general election, and early voting ends Monday, Nov. 7.
PHOTO CREDIT: CHRISTINA CLARK PHOTO CAPTION: Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice presidential candidate speaks at Chicory Café