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Straight No Chaser: Land of the Free For Black Public Officials

Gloria Winston

Op/Ed by Gloria Winston –

They say the more you stir it, the more it stinks. This is not the first time I have used the phrase but I love to engage in what I call teachable moments when they occur.

After recently reading a local news story saying that a friend of mine, George Moses, was arrested for lying to the FBI, I bowed my head and shook it in disbelief. As I read on it became clear to me that the real target was Councilman Adam McFadden; and it appears that because George would not hand him over to the FBI on a silver platter, he too was going down.

I don’t pretend to know exactly what is going on with the case; the alleged lies, contracts, funds transferred, LLCs or anything else. What I do know and won’t apologize for are these are not only my friends; but, if any of what is being alleged is true, then they are friends of mine who have fallen for the ‘okie-doke’. Additionally, if any of what is alleged is true, then they are stupid for thinking they can get away with what they may have seen white boys do and get away with.

Historically, from my experience and observation Black men who rise to positions of power—whether elected or appointed—become an immediate threat in the Land of the Free. The bigger they get the harder they fall.

Recognizing there is more than one side to a story, I seek to remind current and future public officials of the pit falls and dangers that await.. Even if Black men dodged the pipeline to prison in their youth, their success and their ability to create a following make them dangerous to those in the system—people who will spend a career making sure they fail.

The bigger you get in this system, the more powerful your enemies become—and trust me, not all of their enemies prove to be white. Some are jealous-hearted Black men who have failed in their miserable lives; lose their incomes, lose their homes, cheat on their wives and lose their minds because of the failures they have become. Some have become informants trying to keep themselves out of prison. Some are just snakes, rotten to the core.

Historically, I am always reminded of what kind of justice is in place for strong Black men. Although George is the only one who has been charged at this point, I see that as a possible beginning of what is to come. Anyone following the story should note how the white boy John Page who has been implicated has been handled with kid gloves and allowed to retire with no public smears on his character or attempts to embarrass his family. I know Adam and George should know better and I hope they are found to be completely innocent. One of life’s lessons is, if the FBI comes a calling, asking questions, know that they already have the answers.

However, I hoped the same thing about former NYS Senator Malcolm Smith who is now serving prison time in Pennsylvania. As an employee I hoped the same for former Mayor Marian Barry who I will always feel was set up. He was my Boss, and the power he wielded in DC was not something I heard about, it was something I was a part of as a former supervisor organizing public housing residents before he went to jail. I served at his pleasure and was not a civil servant, so his going to jail brought my employment to a close. Mayor Barry had a target on his back for decades.

I also had hopes that the former Mayor of Birmingham, Larry Langford, who, after meeting him I felt he was going to be the first Black Alabama Governor if all went well. He was one of the most impressive leaders I had met in decades, and had he not been indicted on 110 counts, and continued on the path I suspected he was on, I would have been right there by his side helping him get elected.

My hopes were dashed when former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, found himself thinking he was possibly above the law and could do what he may have seen others do; but he too took that fall from grace. And when the Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kirlpatrick fell I was too sad. Greed and power do corrupt some folks. Here was another statuesque Black man with a powerful presence, much like Adam who had some very bad advisers. He forgot about the target on his back. He failed to remember that the Land of the Free was not a place he could roam freely unnoticed. He was under a microscope from Day one. Black men who are big in size are not invisible and God help them if they have dreds. They naturally intimidate with their presence.

Lest we forget former Louisiana Congressman William J. Jefferson and the money found in his freezer. He allegedly had embezzled the funds, as well as former North Carolina Representative, Frank Ballance. I could historically find many more politicians and public officials who were targeted with the intent of destroying them and any possibility they may have had to go further in their careers.

Sometime power truly corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Let’s be crystal clear. I am not sitting in judgment about anyone, but my disappointment with the recent news would not allow me to stay silent. I love my brothers and feel I know their hearts. All I can do is watch and pray that they have not fallen victim to the traps that are there for them. Therefore, to all my brothers and sisters who are public officials, please know that regardless of how easy it may look, YOU cannot do what you may see these white boys do and get away with. Your protections are non-existent.

And again, I am not saying that George Moses or Adam McFadden have done anything wrong. If they have they have clearly underestimated their enemies and have failed to study their history. The Land of the Free is not always Free For Black Public Officials.

Gloria Winston is a Community Activist, Writer, Communicator, and Political Activist. She is a native Rochesterian and has been involved with numerous community organizations in Rochester. Contact Gloria at:

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