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Staten Island still only borough without a Black elected official

Saeed Shabazz | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.

Staten Island boasts the smallest population of the five boroughs, with fewer than 500,000 people

(10.3 percent Black and 14.6 percent Latino) and the largest Italian population (37.7 percent) of any

U.S. county, according to the U.S. Census. However, with nearly 60,000 Blacks, mostly residing north of

the S.I. Expressway or Interstate 278,the borough still is no Black elected official. "I can't put my finger on why we haven't been able to elect a Black person to any office, but it's long overdue," stated Dow Kevin Buford, a spoken-word artist and community activist. Buford was one of two Staten Island activists

who were arrested during the civil disobedience protests against the killing of Amadou Diallo in 1999.

"I mean, here we are with a Black governor and just maybe a Black president, and all that will happen before we can elect a Black to office on Staten Island," Buford added. Blacks have been residing on

Staten Island since before the Revolutionary War. Backing up for a minute, we find that during the hey-day of the community school board movement, there were three Black women elected to the S.I. school

board. One of the three, Debi Rose, has announced her candidacy for S.I.'s 49th City Council seat in

2009. The longtime political activist and educator also ran a few years ago for the same seat, losing

by 170 votes. "It's been an uphill fight just to