From new DA and new reps, forceful words on race and party

Pictured on the set of Basic Black last week: Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer, Rep.-elect Liz Miranda, host Callie Crossley, Suffolk County District Attorney-elect Rachael Rollins and Rep.-elect Nika Elugardo. Image courtesy WGBH

Massachusetts Democrats, who won race after race in Tuesday’s elections, appear to have some racial tensions within their party.

In a televised interview that aired Friday night on WGBH, Suffolk County District Attorney-elect Rachael Rollins and state representatives-elect Nika Elugardo and Liz Miranda, all of Boston, pledged to be forceful agents of change, discussed how they built winning campaigns, and raised serious concerns with leadership in the Democratic party, with Elugardo describing the party as “straight-up racist.”

“What I found was a little disappointing was that I think that the Democratic party of our commonwealth and across the country needs to take a look at themselves,” Miranda told Basic Black host Callie Crossley. “We all won without major support for our primaries.”

“Or any,” added Rollins. “Stop being nice.”

Elugardo, who defeated House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Sanchez in the Democratic primary, noted that “there was major support for my primary, for the opponent.”

The newly elected black women were prompted to discuss the role that the party played in this year’s elections by Crossley, who mentioned this summer’s apology, from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, during a July fundraising appearance before a predominantly black audience in Atlanta.

“We took too many people for granted,” Perez said, according to The Atlantic, “and African Americans — our most loyal constituency — we all too frequently took for granted. That is a shame on us, folks, and for that I apologize. And for that I say, it will never happen again!”

Miranda said that as a candidate this year, she felt she was “fighting” against a party that she says should have been helping her.

“What I found is, I’m a Democrat. I feel I’m gung ho for the party and then you see yourself really fighting against the system that is meant to support you and that is something that needs to be discussed and brought up,” Miranda said. “It shouldn’t be black women having to shout that. I think the party understands that they are at a crossroads.”

“And it’s tokenism. Let’s be honest,” said Rollins, 47, who beat four candidates, including assistant DA Greg Henning and Rep. Evandro Carvalho, to win the primary in September.

Elugardo and Rollins then alluded to Tuesday’s Democratic party celebration at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, where Pressley, the first African-American woman elected to the Massachusetts U.S. House delegation, spoke as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who won a second six-year term and addressed a crowd that was buzzing over the possibility that Warren will run for president in 2020.

Said Elugardo: “What needs to be said in a very straightforward way is that the Democratic party is straight-up racist. The structural racism that we’re talking about dismantling is in the party. And this is one of the reasons why it’s frustrating to be standing up on a stage at a Democratic party behind speeches being made about Republicans dividing the country.”

“And that’s why I left early and went to my after-party right after I spoke,” Rollins said, interrupting Elugardo, who then continued. “So here’s the thing. You have thirty minutes of a speech. Thirty percent of it is bashing people. Thirty percent of it is talking about why we’re unifiers, and then the rest is rhetoric with a couple of sentences thrown in I could actually clap for, legitimately.”