Tanedar, who grew up in India in poverty, told Bridge Michigan that he represents the needs and concerns of African-American voters in Detroit and that the story of his life makes him a close constituency voter.
“Sometimes people just look at me like a rich guy, you know, a man who has millions of dollars,” – Tanedar. “But deep down I never forgot my roots, the roots of poverty.”
He said he believes the seat in Congress’ 13th constituency belongs to the constituency’s voters, not the state’s political elite.
“I think people are smart … and they will make the decision and everything they decide, and allow the democratic process to prevail,” Tanedar said.
He added that in case of election he would pursue The John R. Lewis Act on the Promotion of Suffrage it would make it harder for state legislatures to add voting requirements, as well as economic incentives and programs that promote home ownership for African Americans.
Lawrence told Bridge that Tanedar needed to “work hard to understand and represent the constituency where he is running.”
“Maybe he’ll be able to do it, I never know. But in my heart I want an African-American representative, ”she said.
“It will be the duty of the black community to come together, stand up for the candidate and give them the resources they need to win,” she added.
Why is this important?
For decades, Michigan has had at least one black lawmaker in Congress, and they have brought prospects and focused on issues that directly affect African-American voters.
For example, Conners has for decades promoted what is now known as HR 40, a resolution to examine reparations proposals for African Americans to correct racial injustice.
The issue has received more support in recent years, and Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, have spoken out in support. Currently, U.S. representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a black Democrat from Texas lobbying the full chamber make a decision.
Last year Detroit voters supported the overwhelming majority the creation of a task force designed to study reparations for the city’s past discriminatory policies.
Ronald Brown, an associate professor at Wayne State University who studies race and politics, said issues such as reparations are at the forefront of conversations across the country 30 years later because of black lawmakers.
“I think it’s important to put it on the agenda,” Brown said. “It affects what white Democrats think and what Republicans think.”
Outside of Michigan, black representation in Congress has also had a significant impact on all aspects of governance.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has promised during his presidential campaign in 2020 to nominate a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the highest court. Responsible person for Biden, the promise is a black man: Jim Clayburn, D-South Carolina.
All the eggs in one basket?
While Williams and others focus on the 13th District, other races have two significant candidates from African Americans.
Businessman John James will win the Republican primaries in the new 10th district centered in Macomb County, while Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey challenges Tlaib in the 12th.
Williams of the Black Caucus said Democrats should also focus on helping black candidates win seats in the state legislature.
“You have some smart people, instead of running for Congress, run for state deputies or the state senate,” Williams said.