McAfee’s street cred doesn’t translate into change


Interesting piece by Clinton Collins in this month’s “Rake”:, noting the political chasm between Rev. Jerry McAfee and Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels. McAfee, you may recall, was one of two community activists (Al Flowers was the other—but that’s not news, really) to shout down Mayor R.T. Rybak during a recent Northside press conference.

Collins accurately notes that McAfee and Samuels are fighting separate battles: McAfee against the white power elite (which, he contends, includes Samuels) that seeks to marginalize him and other black activists; Samuels against the thugs who are making life on the North Side (and, it should be noted, fairly large pockets over South) increasingly terrifying.

Where Collins gets it wrong, however, is his belief that “Rybak and Samuels have to form working relationships with people like McAfee” in order to make real progress up North. He argues that McAfee and Flowers and Spike Moss, et al have “credibility” that the mayor and Samuels are lacking. Excuse my French, but that’s a load. . . .

Prior to last November’s election, the council member who represented the troubled Fifth Ward was Natalie Johnson Lee, whose re-election was openly—and aggressively—supported by Flowers, McAfee, and their ilk. All that “credibility” had the effect of electing Samuels by a comfortable margin.

The point is, regular folks in the black community just don’t have a lot of time for political grandstanders. They want to see these thugs put behind bars so they can go about the business of rebuilding their neighborhoods. For all her spit and vinegar, Johnson Lee was never as effective at City Hall as Samuels can be in making real change. The same goes for McAfee and Flowers.