Bike 4 Peace is still in need of hosts for potlucks and warm showers, and also sag vehicles by state because I’m the one who’s sagging behind the rest of the bikers–yesterday, by one hour and a half!!! We’re available for radio interviews–especially me–because I’m definitely a better talker!!!
Malik Rahim, who is riding up solo from New Orleans to meet up with us on September 22 in Washington, DC needs hosts on the route outlined below. He is especially interested right now in Mississippi and Alabama hosts. Malik can be contacted at 504-252-3743.
Here’s my update by day. Very brief updates will come as telephone and internet allow: Continue Reading →
The Root recently interviewed Malik Rahim, renowned New Orleans activist and 2008 Louisiana Green Party candidate for Congress, about his plan to bike from Louisiana to Washington DC in order to build support for restoring the Gulf Coast after the devastating BP oil spill and preceding disasters like Hurricane Katrina:
Meet Malik Rahim: 62-year-old activist; member of the original Black Panther Party; founder of Common Ground Relief, one of the largest post-Katrina volunteer organizations in New Orleans; former Green Party candidate for U.S. Congress; and now a cyclist. Rahim is riding his bike from Louisiana to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness around the destruction of the Gulf Coast by the BP oil spill. The bike marathon is just the latest in Rahim’s decades-long legacy of activism in New Orleans, particularly around housing and prison reform. The organization Common Ground has attracted thousands of volunteers from around the country to come help restore housing in the Lower Ninth Ward, and also built the first health and legal clinics in the city after the floods. His work has attracted an unlikely ally in none other than Brad Pitt, for whom Rahim professes an unconditional “love.” The Root caught up with Rahim during one of his stops on the way to D.C. (He’s scheduled to arrive in D.C. on Sept. 22.)
The Root: So what issue would you most like to shed light on with this bike tour?
Malik Rahim: Wetland restoration. It’s all about the global crisis that we are in because right now we are at risk of losing life as we know it. I truly believe that so goes the Gulf Coast, then so goes America, and so goes America, then so goes life as we know it. So I’m here to raise awareness that we can’t leave this to future generations to pay for our arrogance. We have to make sure that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy life on this planet in the same way that we are enjoying it. That’s why I’m biking. I know if I can do it at 62, then we can clean up this oil spill, and we can probably stop it. But we need not fall back into that drunken level of prosperity. We can no longer be 5 percent of the world’s population and consuming 25 percent of the world’s resources. We have to find alternatives to using fossil fuels. I’m not doing this to be against the petroleum industry because if there is anyone at fault, we are at fault.
Analysis of “what happened” with the Malik Rahim campaign has been ongoing since the Dec. 6 election. Some felt disappointed with the 3% turnout given the intense amount of support in terms of money and volunteers. My gut opinion was that the Green Party has a “cap” in votes in a contested House race that contains both a Democrat and Republican on the ballot. If you look at all U.S. House races that Greens have competed in that have both a Democrat and Republican, Greens very rarely top 3% of the vote.
The same holds true for U.S. Senate races, and Gubernatorial races as well (with some notable exceptions) but the dynamics change when it comes to state legislative races and are completely different for local non-partisan races for obvious reasons.
Last week Malik Rahim’s campaign manager Robert Caldwell sent out a “debriefing” report that touches on the campaign’s strengths and weaknesses and goes in depth into the dynamics of the situation on the ground. It is worth reading, and is copied below in its entirety.
In a low turnout Dec. 6 election yesterday Green Party candidate and New Orleans Activist Malik Rahim took 1,880 votes for 3% for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. The incumbent, Democrat Bill Jefferson, finished with 31,296, 47%, losing his seat to Republican unknown Joseph Cao, who finished with 33,122 votes, 50%. Libertarian Gregory Kahn came in fourth with 548 votes, 1%.
The Green Party had directed a lot of resources to this race in the last month, hoping for a big impact in this race. While the loss was not unexpected, and the Green Party learned a lot about grassroots mobilizing nationally for a local race, I am sure I wasn’t the only one that was imagining how wonderful it would have been for Rahim to be the first Green in Congress.
In Final Days of Congressional Campaign, Green Party Candidate Fights Local Media Blackout in New Orleans
In the years following the collapse of the federal levees after Hurricane Katrina, activist Malik Rahim was busy organizing one of the most influential recovery organizations in the Gulf South. The organization he founded and currently leads, Common Ground Collective, was gutting houses and providing medical and legal services to tens of thousands of New Orleans residents.
His work was so prolific that it was featured on 60 minutes, ABC News, Democracy Now!, and a host of other shows.
“I’m from New Orleans, and I stayed here after the flood to serve my community, at a time when neglect from the federal government was as chilling as it was apparent,” said Rahim.
Even the local paper in New Orleans the Times-Picayune featured him in an article after the storm, stating that his work was “so far-reaching that it has brought over 10,000 volunteers to New Orleans since the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.”
But the media coverage ended once he decided to run for office this fall. Continue Reading →
The Times Picayune profiled both the Libertarian candidate Gregory Kahn and Green Party candidate Malik Rahim today, referring to them as “long shots” in the Dec 6 election for the Louisiana 2nd Congressional District.
On Rahim, they write:
A longtime housing and prisoner-rights advocate, Rahim decided to run for Congress five days after Hurricane Katrina, when he realized the region’s most critical recovery issues would be handled at the federal level.
But Rahim took a pass on running for the 2nd District seat in 2006, he said, because he was fighting an ultimately failing battle to halt the eviction of about 100 families from a low-rent apartment complex in Algiers. The effort grew out of Common Ground Relief, the Lower 9th Ward aid organization Rahim founded after the flood.
Like other challengers, Rahim said Jefferson has not been an effective representative. “You can’t see a park, you can’t see a school, you can’t see a program except for those that are well-connected,” he said.
If elected, Rahim said he would ensure that the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires workers on public projects to be paid prevailing wages, is observed on all recovery projects. He also vowed to make sure local, minority-owned companies get a fair shot at contracts associated with the federal city project and the rebuilding of public housing complexes.
To help all residents return to New Orleans, Rahim said he would push federally regulated banks to meet the credit needs of low-income residents.
Despite last week’s announcement of a plan to build two new hospitals in downtown New Orleans, Rahim said he would push President-elect Barack Obama to reopen Charity Hospital, an option he said would be 20 percent cheaper than the current plan.
“I don’t believe it’s a done deal,” he said of shutting down Charity for good.
Nodding to his Green Party ideology, Rahim vowed to push the Army Corps of Engineers to preserve wetlands and waterways as it erects flood-control infrastructure.
“Regardless of what civil rights we achieve,” he said, “if we cannot breathe this air and drink this water, we all are doomed.”
Pete Karas of Racine, Wisconsin went down to New Orleans last week to volunteer for the Malik Rahim campaign. He called today from New Orleans and sent a few pictures. (Below: Pete Karas with Malik Rahim)
Pete said that he has been going out daily with other volunteers doing doors, dropping lit, talking to people. He said that people he has talked to have been very receptive, they know Malik or have heard of him, but many are unaware that there is an election this Saturday. “Oh Malik is running?” Raising awareness of the election has been one of the challenges.
Pete felt that the Incumbent Jefferson wasn’t doing much at all for the election, but the Republican Cao has been aggressive in getting his message out. The Rahim Campaign got up 3 billboards in prominent locations, have been running radio ads, and on Saturday night there was a campaign event at an International Art Festival, held in an old warehouse, a display in remembrance of Katrina. About 50 or 60 people were there.
Everyone down in New Orleans is excited about the campaign, and the Louisiana Greens are really committed. How Rahim will do come Saturday Dec. 6 will depend on the GOTV efforts between now and then.
Pat LaMarche, Green Party candidate for vice president in 2004 and for governor of Maine in 2006 and author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States,” writes in the Bangor News: “I’m staying just a few blocks from Jefferson Davis Parkway. His statue has withstood everything the elements could throw at it since it was set in place back in 1902.
Green Party congressional candidate Malik Rahim, one of the founders of Common Ground, talks a little about his home Algiers, in New Orleans.
Video by Ed Mays of Seattle, Washington.
Watch footage from Malik Rahim’s NW Tour on Pirate TV — viewable on channel 29/77 in King County, or online at scantv.org. Also featuring Lee Fleming of Seattle Common Ground Collective. For more information: see Seattle Common Ground’s website and commongroundrelief.org.