Chicago There was good news from Pine Bluff and bad news from Little Rock in the wake of the election.
The ACORN initiated minimum wage increase for municipal employees in Pine Bluff won overwhelmingly by a 75-25% margin, which must have shocked them out of their shoes down there on the Arkansas River as the trees turn into cotton and bean fields.
On the other hand after years of seeing ACORN empowerment in Little Rock represented by ACORN leaders who were elected in the central and eastern districts of the city, we suffered some setbacks. Genevieve Stewart seems to have lost by six, yes 6, votes in her effort to be re-elected in the east. Ms Johnnie Pugh, long time stalwart ACORN leader, and current board delegate, was defeated in central Little Rock. Ouch!
Over the years ACORN was able to break the hammerlock on the Little Rock City Board of Directors once we were able to establish district elections. 35 years ago — literally way back in the day — it was not unusual to see 5 or 6 of the City Directors all living within a couple of blocks of each other in the same neighborhoods of Pleasant Valley or Pulaski Heights. Finally winning district representation allowed the newly empowered lower income and working families, many of them ACORN members, to get involved in these non-partisan elections and see what civic engagement really means in a democracy. Not surprisingly ACORN members were elected regularly. Gloria Wilson, one of the original ACORN leaders who passed away earlier this year, was perhaps the first to win a seat from the eastern district. Recently, Johnnie and Genevieve have been a mighty twosome in keeping our citizens in the mix.
Battling health problems and other issues may have forced our good sisters and members to take their eyes — and our own — off the prize for a minute leading to this new lesson in the other side of what it takes to make a democracy work. We win some, but we always lose some.
So, here’s to the wise and generous citizens of Pine Bluff, and here’s to all of us buying a lesson, that we actually already knew!