BCN Staff – July 13, 2021 — The Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus has unanimously re-elected Debrah Mitchell of North Little Rock as its president as the state Democratic Party prepares for a historic 2022 election with a record number of Black candidates entering local, statewide and congressional races.
The Democratic Black Caucus (ADBC) was established in 1982 as an extension of the Democratic Party, where it provides an intra-party vehicle to address the concerns of African Americans. The objective of this organization is to achieve proportionate representation of black Democratic public officials, elected or appointed in Arkansas.
An auxiliary unit of the Arkansas Democratic Party, the caucus elected its slate of new officers on Saturday, July 10 at Shorter College in North Little Rock. This was the first time the members met in person since February 2020 due to COVID-19. Mitchell was re-elected to the chair’s post she served in during the pandemic.
“I’m super excited and ready to continue the work to help make Arkansas a better and ‘bluer’ state by helping to elect more Democrats,” said Mitchell. “The Democratic Party was successful in getting President Joe Biden elected, making history by electing Kamala Harris the first African-American woman as vice president, and putting Democrats in control of the Senate.
“However, we still have a lot of work to do here in the Natural State. For next 16 months, we will be registering new voters, recruiting African Americans to run for office, and re-engaging Black voters across the state. If we are to win, it is vital we reach out to the Black community now,” said Mitchell.
As noted by Mitchell, several Black Democratic candidates have made the decision to enter the 2022 in local, state and congressional races. For example, Chris Jones, former Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub Executive Director, and Anthony Bland, a longtime educator, both announced plans to run for governor in June. Both men, who are Little Rock natives and ministers, are the first Black Democratic candidates in Arkansas to seek that office.
They will join a crowded gubernatorial field that now includes two other Democratic candidates, James “Rus” Russell, a small-business owner, and businesswoman Supha Xayprasith-Mays, wife of Black civil rights attorney and former legislator Richard Mays. That race is already garnering national attention with Jones’ viral campaign launch video that highlights his seven-generation family ties to Arkansas and a career as a nuclear engineer and physicist, and the entry of Sarah Sanders Huckabee on the Republican gubernatorial ticket.
Sanders is the former spokeswoman for former President Donald Trump and the daughter of former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee. She will face a Republican primary challenge against Leslie Rutledge, the current Arkansas attorney general.
In the race for the U.S. Senate, Natalie James of Little Rock also announced her candidacy in June to become Arkansas’ first Black female senator. At least four other candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties have announced plans to run for the seat now held by Sen. John Boozman of Rogers.
Besides those high-profile races in 2020, Arkansas’ two largest cities also recently elected their first Black mayors in state history. In 2018, both Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and former legislator George McGill were elected as the respective mayors of Little Rock and Fort Smith. Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock also lost her bid to become Arkansas’s first Black congresswoman in the 2020 election for Arkansas’s 2nd District against incumbent Rep. French Hill
The ADBC, which is separate from the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus, also monitors local and state elections and the performance of all elected officials while circulating information to the African American community.
Besides Mitchell, other ADBC officers elected this week included:
First Vice President: Ethan Dunbar, Lewisville
Second Vice President: Jannie Cotton, Sherwood
Secretary: Christie Satterwhite, Stamps
Treasurer: Barry Jefferson, Jacksonville
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