Today we live in an era where money shapes literally everything we touch, from neighborhood development to government policy making, and especially politics and campaign finance. Increasingly so we as a society have observed the ills of a system that requires large sums of money to engage it, to influence it and even to lead it. Politicians, administrators and citizens alike have all recognized how detrimental Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United have been, yet it does not appear as if big money in the realm of American politics is going anywhere. In that reality this is where we meet Brandaun Dean, a young black politico from Brighton, Alabama, a small town outside Birmingham that is equally known for its warm welcoming energy and rampant plight. At the age of 24 Mr. Dean became its chief executive making him at the time the youngest mayor in the nation, and a political upstart that drew much attention.
Dean grew up under the tutelage of his grandmother a woman described as always walking through everything in life “with a great deal of integrity”. She was his example on how to navigate difficult spaces, as a black woman in the south this was her burden and her strength. Dean also found his inspiration in the fact that he is “fascinated” by people, always seeking to connect, always seeking to assist. He also desired deeply to make his community better for his loved ones particularly his grandmother. During his childhood he decided to engage his community in the church, here he would learn the basics of politics and maybe more importantly to “keep my hands clean” (stay out of trouble). As high school graduation loomed Dean searched for the college he would attend with almost an uninspired energy until a guidance counselor softly suggested Howard University. Intrigued by her suggestion he visited and fell in love. For him Howard University was a place he viewed as “no other place in the world”. So the choice was easy, Howard’s environment continued to stir his ambitions and subsequent internships and experiences placed Brandaun on a path for leadership in the future.
Fredrick Douglas, Robert Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall and most importantly Sen. Kamala Harris are some of the figures that Dean states motivated him to advocate for issues and populations that are under-served and misrepresented. The “Do It Kamala” PAC is the embodiment of that mission, Dean has set a lofty goal of 9 million dollars in order to put Sen. Harris “in the best position to win, if she so decides to run.” When asked “why Kamala?”, Dean responds nearly poetically “Why not Kamala?, she is everything a president of these United States should be, she is smart, she is transparent, she is compassionate. She is not bound by anything that was or anything that could be. She would be a president like no other in American history.”
Dean’s words ring true, there is no figure on the grand stage of American Politics like Kamala Harris, a states Attorney General turned fierce Senator Kamala if elected would become America’s first black female president, stepping in the intersection of blackness and womanhood on a level uncharted prior. Let us not get confused 2020 is a long way away and if she did decide to run she would have to best a field of very capable fellow democrats, and then beat a sitting US president. However this is how seeds are planted and campaign efforts are born; Dean believes that starting early is always the key to any effort invoking again his grandmother who would rise every Sunday at 6am to start breakfast. To him fundraising and campaign finance are a clear path for advocacy in the black community. He hopes he can raise this money to assist Sen. Harris and influence her platform and policy inclinations in support of Criminal Justice Reform, Infrastructure Reinvestment and Marijuana legalization just to say a few.
There should be no kidding what Brandaun has set out to accomplish is ambitious but if he is successful he will become the first black man to coordinate a PAC for a major party candidate. His operation could create a blueprint for other young politicos of color in an era where protesting and disruption does not seem to be effective. This is what is at the heart of his endeavors, exercising another arm of black political action, empowering young people of color in that vein and highlighting issues that may otherwise go unheard. However Dean is not of the mind that big business should not have a say in American politics, he simple believes that their influence and interests has “out-sized” those of the everyday American citizens particularly black men and women. Only time will tell if Dean will prove successful, but regardless he is setting himself up to be a trailblazer in American politics.