A new Democratic club announced its formation Saturday on the East Side, stating that it wants to give neighborhoods another voice, and to reject suggestions that voters avoid the special State Senate election Feb. 28 because the party did not endorse a black candidate.
"It is our civil right to vote," said Kerry Saunders, a Democratic committeeman speaking for the new Old School Democratic Club, named because organizers want to return to a day when activists went door to door to seek voter opinion.
"African-Americans have been denied so many things, and our ancestors died for the right to vote," he said.
Saunders said the Old School Democratic Club has about 20 members so far, some working for Council member Mark Coppola, the Democrat running for the Senate seat Mayor Byron W. Brown vacated.
Some on the East Side were angry when the party did not select a black candidate, Council member Antoine Thompson, to run against Republican Christopher L. Jacobs.
"For them not to consider Antoine was an insult to our community," said Willie Stewart of the group Community Voice. "We just want to send a message to the Democratic Party that we are tired of being taken advantage of." Saunders disagreed that the option is to boycott the election.
"It's time for us as a community to look at the difference between race and culture and start to decide on the individual," he said.
He said the club, which held a reception at the United House of Prayer on Howard Street, expects to endorse candidates in future elections, register voters, involve young people and force incumbents to produce improvements.