By Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan
Hyattsville Mayor Candace B. Hollingsworth launched a new political party, Our Black Party, on July 14, alongside former vice mayor and city councilmember of Charlottesville, Va., Dr. Wes Bellamy.
“This is about designing policy and programs that ensure that America’s promise is extended to everyone,” Hollingsworth wrote in an Aug. 5 email. “There has been no consequential policy aimed at improving the lives of Black people in this country since 1968. It is not enough to say ‘Black lives matter.’”
The organization’s website proclaims, “We are committed to creating an agenda and elevating policies and people focused on Black liberation. With this agenda, we will energize voters — current and new — reframe the national political landscape, and reshape culture for the benefit of Black people.” Our Black Party also plans to educate Black Americans so that they can expect more from politicians seeking their vote and hold elected officials accountable.
Hollingsworth does not believe that the party will distract her from her responsibilities as mayor.
“If we are truly committed to our stated values, I think Hyattsville can only benefit from my work helping to build Our Black Party,” she said.
Upon launching, the organization released their agenda to defund the police, decriminalize poverty, legalize marijuana, guarantee income for all, address racism in healthcare, grow Black businesses, demand statewide equity officers, advocate for high quality and affordable education, and build intergenerational wealth.
Another item in their agenda is to newly elect 1,000 Black officials as cabinet-level appointees in state government by 2024.
“We are working to change the laws and lawmakers that undermine Black life,” said Hollingsworth.
Developing a platform to advocate for Black issues has been on her mind for at least several years. In an Our Black Party launch interview with the Power 105.1 radio show “The Breakfast Club,” Hollingsworth noted that the organization is “taking advantage of the fact that this is a moment of collective frustration for everybody across the country.”
Before becoming Hyattsville’s first African American mayor, Hollingsworth served the city as a councilmember (Ward 1) in 2011, and became council president in 2013. In September 2014, she and two other Prince George’s County residents founded a management consulting firm where she worked with nonprofits. Hollingsworth also has an academic background in public policy.
Our Black Party’s co-chair, Dr. Wes Bellamy, is a former global equity advocate, political science professor at Virginia State University and author of the book Monumental: It Was Never About a Statue. The book chronicles his time as vice mayor, during which he encountered a neo-Nazi rally and championed removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Bellamy’s work as a vice mayor also included a city council-approved equity package that provided nearly $4 million dollars in aid for underprivileged communities.
Hollingsworth and Bellamy both understand that strong movements have allies. Both have said that party participation is not exclusive to Black Americans and public leaders.
Hollingsworth encourages non-Black constituents to ask themselves, “How can I, as a non-Black constituent, get involved to help grow this resource for our community?”
The party is technically a Federal Election Commission-registered political committee and does not operate as a third party. They eventually hope to gain ballot status.
According to Revolt, a Black-owned cable network and online publication, the co-chairs said that Our Black Party already has advocates, policymakers, Black elected officials, and community, cultural and spiritual leaders as members. They aim to have 250,000 members before the upcoming presidential election.
Dream Village Center, a co-working space on Baltimore Avenue in Hyattsville, serves as Our Black Party’s headquarters.
Anuoluwapo A. Adefiwitan is a summer intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times.