Last night's AOC speech reminded me of perhaps THE most radical of the six Members of Congress whom I worked on Capitol Hill, Mickey Leland. I learned this when I was on Air Force One, flying with the Congressional Black Caucus to Mickey's funeral in Texas.

Rep. Ron Dellums, perhaps one of Mickey's closest friends in Congress, told us a story.

"I opened up Roll Call, and they were talking about some Afro-wearing, dashiki clad, radical member of Congress. I thought they were talking about me!"
Mickey had a big "man-purse," dashikis and wore platforms. He was a shock to the system. Rep. Dellums sat him down and said Mickey, you have a choice.

You can either represent yourself, or you can represent the people. You decide.
Mickey pushed back. Why do I have to wear suits, ties, carry a brief case? I refuse to sell out and I am not a sell out.

Dellums said you are confusing strategy with principle. Use strategy and tactics to fulfill your worthwhile principles.
Malcolm X, Diane Nash, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, Jr. looked as if they were going to a CPA convention. No one ever called them sell-outs. Their tactic of protest and demostration underscored their principle of freedom for Black people.
One final thing. Congress isn't about to change how they operate just because you showed up. Congress does evolutions, not revolutions. If you want to represent the people, you have to get behind the door. Use your tactics. Strategize.
Or you can stay outside the door and not get a damn thing done.

Mickey got some suits, ties, trimmed his afro and, as he taught me, made friends before he needed them.
He started the Select Committee on Hunger, forging alliances between Republicans and Democrats. He helped lead the effort to the veto override of the South Africa Sanctions bill. He demonstrated against apartheid. He slept on heating grates with the homeless.
Knowing forward progress means, sometimes, incremental changes, he was a true progressive. He was a stalwart member of the Democratic party. And he was a revolutionary who didn't fear death because he loved us so.
Protests must become policy. Otherwise, you're just making noise.
Policies that do not help Black people have been historically proven as morally bankrupt as no policy at all.
If you've got the ballot, you don't need the bullet.
But you've got to use the ballot.
You can follow @JamesMWilliam18.
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