Charles Barron and the Freedom Party are very likely one of the most important political developments in the history of New York State politics. Up to now, the Black and Latino vote has been tucked into the hip pocket of the Democratic machine, while opportunist politicians, both Black and white, have set out to contain and control Black voters.

Black voters are led to believe that there are only two purposes to vote: to elect the white candidate who claims to be our friend or is the lesser of two evils, or to elect the Black candidate who is most deserving of a public job and personal recognition. Other groups demand specifics, like immigration reform or a woman Supreme Court judge who is supportive of women’s rights.

The most we get is the personal satisfaction that the candidate we supported won.

As a result, after of years of traditional politics, Blacks as a group are left without power or substance of any kind. In New York State, Blacks and Latinos have also been led to believe that politics is the art of compromise. Charles Barron has pointed out that in the real world, politics is about power–the power that decides who has food, income, education, shelter, heat and health care. For New York’s underserved communities, the real issue must be the acquisition of economic and political power.

In 1960, there were 103 Black-elected officials in this country. By 1990, that number had grown to 9,000. At the same time, social comfort indicators showed that nothing had changed in terms of the overall condition for Blacks as a group. By this year, the levels of dysfunction in the underserved Black and Latino communities can best be described as having created a state of emergency.

Traditional politicians tell confused young men to pull up their pants and stay in school, while cutting $100 million from the state’s education budget, leaving the public school-to-prison pipeline firmly in place. Traditional politics continue to fail us.

Charles Barron’s campaign is significant because it not only seeks to elect a governor, but sets out to create an independent Black and Latino-led political organization that, without hesitation, moves to address the critical and still unresolved issues facing this state’s poor and working-class communities. It is only the Freedom Party that speaks for these communities, which are ignored and marginalized by the major traditional parties and their traditional cohorts statewide.

The mere possibility of a statewide independent political organization has already attracted real concern on the part of Black and white politicians, who never thought we could file the 43,000 signatures that have more than earned our position on the November ballot. Let’s be clear: To actually build an independent organization that will empower Blacks and Latinos on our own terms will fundamentally change the political landscape in this state and, quite possibly, launch a true Black and Latino empowerment movement nationwide.

For many Black and Latino New Yorkers, Charles Barron’s candidacy is the first time they’ll actually have a real reason to vote.