A well-known community activist in the District publicly changed his political party recently sending a message to the local leaders that young Democrats are tired of the status quo. The outspoken activist, Ron Moten, 41, publicly announced his decision to switch from Democrat to Republican, which may impact next year’s council race. Moten called himself more than just a Republican, but a Civil Rights Republican, one who plans to take on D.C.’s powerful Democratic party “that has led Black people to slaughter.”

Moten stood on a hill and gazed across the Woodlawn Cemetery recalling African Americans’ political foundation as Republicans.

“I’m going back to the political roots of my ancestors. This Woodlawn Cemetery is filled with thousands of grave sites, many of whom were Black Civil Rights Republicans. I’ll engage the Republican and the Democratic parties in doing what’s best for all D.C. citizens,” said Moten. “People make us feel ashamed to be Republicans, when it was the political party chosen by our ancestors. Only through remembering our history, will we be able to embrace the next level of political engagement in this 21st century.”

Moten, co-founder of Peacoholics, a popular anti-violence youth organization, said the next generation of voters must carefully scrutinize current leadership and not be made to fear change.

“The fact is that African Americans have played major roles in shaping the development and the legacies of both political parties. Neither party was perfect when we joined, but our involvement in both has brought about positive outcomes for our country at various times in our history,” said Moten.

Known for his confrontational demeanor, Moten said the time is ripe for change. “If our history fighting for and achieving civil rights has taught us anything it’s that we don’t have a positive effect on a society, or a political party, by sitting on the sidelines and throwing stones, but rather by becoming an active and formidable participant.”

Moten said for years he pondered on making this move but the revolutionary movement by young people in other countries inspired him. He pointed out that in the District, as in many other predominantly Black cities, the African Americans are Democrats and the party politics has led us to slaughter. “Today, in some ways African-Americans are a much more diverse and politically savvy group than ever before. Yet, we still allow ourselves to be sidelined by hitching our wagons to the same legacy politicians and accepting the same failing results,” Moten said.

“There are 200,000 residents in the District receiving government assistance in some form or the other. That’s crazy! The one party rule in D.C. has removed the African American male as head of household and replaced him with an unhealthy dependency on Uncle Sam. When are we going to say enough?” Moten said.

Moten suggested participation in both parties is in the best interest of the District’s citizenry. “With a leadership crisis looming large, the latest chapter in our blind support for only one party here in Washington, D.C. has left us politically and economically stagnant, and with no representation in the other party,” said Moten.

D.C. Republicans are excited about Moten’s decision.

Paul Craney, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, said Moten is an inspiration to many District residents who are tired of the status quo.

“Moten is extremely popular and very well liked across the District, especially, among young voters. If he wins the Republican primary, we will support him,” said Craney.

With six months until the Republican Primary in April, no Republican candidate has filed. If Moten decides to run, as expected, many believe his candidacy will shake up DC politics.

Laura Chambers, spokeswoman for the Young DC Republicans said after the primary, the winner will get the group’s full support. “I think Moten will make an excellent candidate,” Chambers said.

The Democratic leadership was contacted but did not respond to requests for comment. Longtime Republicans said there hasn’t been this much excitement in the party in 15 years. “Ron Moten is running as a Republican. He’s like a celebrity. I’m receiving calls from Democrats as well as Republicans,” said Robert Richards, chair of the Ward 7 Republicans.”

His advice to Moten was to campaign the old-fashioned way by going door-to-door., something Moten does very well.


Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO