Mo Cowan, Mo Problems
The round, bespectacled face above is the face of history, although you might not know it. That’s the face of Mo Cowan, who is making history today after being appointed by another notable Black Politician, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to hold John Kerry’s vacant Senate spot. That makes him the second Black Senator in this Congress (along with South Carolina appointee Tim Scott), which makes this the very first Congress in which we’ve had more than one Black Senator, ever, in the 140 years or so since Blacks have been eligible for the office. Although he is not seeking to run when the office is up for a special election in June, the recognition is a special one, due to the rarity of the event. He belongs and will forever belong to one of the most exclusive orders in all politics. Kudos.
I don’t know much about the guy, except that he’s from a small-town in North Carolina (cheers) and graduated from Duke (boos). There’s a short article on him here, and his Wikipedia page, which has only been alive for an hour or so is available here. Apparently he’s a well-respected source of diversity talent scouting on both sides of the political aisle in the Boston political machines, and he’s a former chief of staff of Patrick’s. I have to shout out Patrick, because this looks like a pretty conscious statement decision, for an office which will be largely symbolic (the 4 months he’ll be in office will give Cowan just enough time to remember his regular parking spot).
But looking past the transience of his appointment and the fact that Republican counterpart Tim Scott seems to have been an obvious token appointment, is this the herald of a Golden Age for Blacks in upper echelons of politics? A lot of folks point to Barack Obama’s Presidency as the dawn of a new racial era in federal politics, but his first four years were actually marked by decreases in minority leadership at elected positions. The effect in the Senate was amplified by the fact that he had to leave his spot there to run the country. Now, we have promising politicians like Mr Patrick himself, who seem to be primed for runs at national leadership positions at some point. Cory Booker, Newark’s Dark Knight (I can make the joke because I’m Black), has launched a campaign for Senate, where he seeks to become the first elected Black Senator since Barack Obama in 2005. We had three new Black US Representatives elected in 2013 (and got rid of Allen West, thank God). We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m glad we’re getting some fresh blood in at the Federal levels. Let’s see where it goes.
But today, let’s just toast to Mo Cowan and Deval Patrick. History-makers are welcome here. And it’s just in time for Black History Month.