Dr. Lenora Fulani, former presidential candidate of the now defunct New Alliance Party (NAP), and "critic" of the two party monopoly on politics in the US, recently stunned many observers by endorsing Pat Buchanan’s campaign to become the Reform Party’s candidate for President in the 2000 election. In rationalizing her decision to endorse one of the most rabid, racist, sexist, homophobic, right wing political figures on the political scene today, Fulani suggested that Buchanan’s candidacy would be good for "independent" politics and the political fortunes of Black people.
Indeed, Fulani promised to bring Pat Buchanan to the heart of Harlem, the Capital of Black America, to dine at Sylvia’s restaurant, and speak at the House of Justice, headquarters for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
How could Fulani, who claims to be a Marxist and a champion of Black causes, endorse an arch adversary of Black people? From my vantage point no one should be surprised that she could commit such a deplorable act. For some time, at the direction of her mentor and master Dr. Fred Newman, it appears that Fulani’s services as a political operative have been for sale to the highest bidder.
When I ran for President in 1992, I did so in part to protect the Black community against political interlopers and pretenders like Fulani. A cursory examination of the principal Black independent political movements in the last quarter century reveal that she was nowhere to be found in any of them. From the National Black Political Assembly, the National Black Independent Political Party to the National Black United Fund, there is no evidence that Fulani played any significant role in the independent Black political movement.
So, how did she become a "prominent" political leader purporting to represent the interests of Black people? The Fulani phenomenon is but the latest example of a predominantly White organization utilizing a Black face — in this instance a Black female face — to establish a base in the Black community to carry out its own political agenda.
The scheme has been aided and abetted by well meaning but gullible Black people who are understandably so fed up with many of the current Black "leaders" and the two establishment parties that they will give an audience to anyone who offers the appearance of an alternative. Many Black women are also eager to see Black women break out of the role of followers in male dominated organizations and movements and become leaders in political organizations and movements.
Fred Newman has cleverly attempted to exploit these legitimate aspirations. Most knowledgeable activists have always known that Fulani’s claim that NAP, the political formation Newman created, was Black led was fraudulent. Newman, a one-time associate of Lyndon LaRouche, has always been the headmaster of a predominantly White cult like operation.
Using a concept called "social therapy," which essentially proclaims that people with mental disorders can be cured through service to the movement, many patients of Newman’s social therapy clinics became the foot soldiers for his party. They largely comprised the army of volunteers who succeeded in getting NAP on the ballot in all 50 states during Fulani’s presidential campaigns. More than promoting the interests of Black people and the oppressed, those campaigns may have been calculated to raise money for Newman’s operations by exploiting the matching fund provisions of the federal election laws.
Through it all, Fulani has never been the leader of anything. Instead, she has Been a devout servant of Newman, who once said something to the effect that, "I made her, she is my proudest accomplishment."
For her part, Fulani is so mesmerized by Newman that she has praised him as a leader "who has done more for Black people than any Black leader alive." Together this odd couple has been exploiting Black folks to promote their own agenda, which mostly appears to be enriching Newman and his associates.
A few years ago, Newman abruptly declared that NAP had outlived its usefulness and disbanded it. But if NAP was so successful, then why did Newman shut it down? Shortly after its demise, Fulani popped up in the camp of the billionaire Ross Perot. Apparently, Perot was eager to use Newman’s foot soldiers to secure ballot status for his presidential campaign. Since then Fulani has been deployed to mind the movement founded by Perot.
Noticeably quiet for the past few years, now Newman and Fulani have resurfaced as allies and partners of the right wing demagogue Pat Buchanan. They are political bounty hunters, whose only leverage is their purported ability to field an army of foot soldiers and the claim that they can deliver Black votes to the Reform Party and Buchanan.
Such is the strange career of one Lenora Fulani. Now that we know, there’s no reason for Black folks to be duped by Fred Newman and his "proudest accomplishment."
Ron Daniels directs the Center for Constitutional Rights and serves of the advisory committee of the Independent Progressive Politics Network.