While Latinos have set the pace in political organizing among statewide minorities in recent years, a revived RI Black Political Action Committee hopes to raise the concerns of black Rhode Islanders while also fostering closer collaboration with Hispanic activists.
After last having been active during the 2000 election season, the Black PAC went into a state of dormancy, something that made it more difficult for blacks and Latino political activists to work together. “Now there can be a meeting of the minds,” says Julian Dash, the 28-year-old president of the resurgent PAC, whose March 1 fundraiser at the Providence Black Repertory Company attracted a crowd of about 200 people and brought in more than $5000.
Dash, a member of the Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee, says he has worked closely with Domingo Morel, RILPAC’s president. While electoral competition between black and Latino candidates has sparked concern in recent years, “We plan on doing a lot of work together to help bridge that gap,” Dash says, “and to mitigate what could be black-brown tensions.”
Originally established by former Providence councilor Tommy O’Connor and the late Roosevelt Benton, the Black PAC also now includes community organizer Elmer Stanley as vice president, and Ronnie Young, a new Providence School Board member, as treasurer. Dash, who was recognized by the Phoenix last year as a local hero for his efforts in bridging community activism and the development of affordable housing, says T’sey-Haye Preaster, Ravi Perry, and Justin Williams have also been important parts of reactivating the PAC.
The Black PAC plans to target increased voter registration, and particularly more voter turnout, while supporting candidates who represent the concerns of the black community. While black candidates will get a close look, Dash says, “I don’t ever want to put us in a box where we say we will only support black candidates.” Plans for the PAC’s future include community-based events and gatherings to assess issues of concern to the larger community. With the development of a Web site still on the horizon, those interested in more information about the PAC can contact Dash at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 401.954.6837.