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Lenora Fulani

From Academic Kids

Lenora Branch Fulani (b. April 25, 1950) is a psychotherapist and political activist in the United States. She is best known for her unusual political organizations and Presidential campaigns.

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Early life

Lenora Fulani grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania in a working class household as Lenora Branch. She later took the name "Fulani", which is the name of a nomadic population in West Africa.

Fulani's career is very closely connected with her mentor Fred Newman, a controversial psychotherapist formerly associated with Lyndon LaRouche. Newman's "social therapy" group sessions link emotional problems to social problems and seek to "deprogram" clients and then direct them to work for Marxist-influenced political agendas. Fulani became interested in Newman's ideas in the late 1970s while she was attending the City University of New York. She received post-graduate training at Newman's New York Institute for Social Therapy and would become his most famous disciple.

Newman's therapy clients make up a large portion of the members in the various political parties that he has founded. The first of these was the International Workers Party, which began the "Newmanite" collective's attempts to run for public office in the mid 1970s. Fulani began as a political volunteer. She recruited Newman's 1984 presidential candidate, Dennis Serrette, before trying her own hand on the campaign trail. The political concerns she has emphasized include racial equality and gay rights.

Electoral politics

After running in various New York state elections in the 1980s, Fulani ran for President in 1988 as a member of the New Alliance Party, which Newman founded. She was the first woman and the first African-American to appear on the ballot in all 50 states. She received 0.2% of the vote.

Fulani ran unsuccessfully as a New York gubernatorial candidate in 1990. She was endorsed by Louis Farrakhan, who had been politically involved with Jesse Jackson's 1988 campaign (but who had been dropped at the recommendation of Jackson's campaign advisors). Both Farrakhan and Fulani have criticized the view that the Democratic Party is the only appropriate political party for Blacks in the United States.

Fulani again ran as the New Alliance candidate for President in the 1992 election, this time receiving 0.07% of the vote. She chose former Peace and Freedom Party activist Maria Elizabeth Munoz as her vice-presidential running mate. Munoz previously ran for the offices of U.S. Senator and governor in California. It was also in 1992 that Fulani released her autobiography, Making of a Fringe Candidate.

In 1994, Fulani and Newman became affiliated with the Patriot Party, one of many groups that would later compete for control of the Reform Party founded by Ross Perot. She also joined with Jacqueline Salit to start the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, an organization dedicated to bringing various independent groups together to challenge the bipartisan hegemony in American politics.

In the 2001 election for Mayor of New York City, Fulani and the Independence Party of New York endorsed the Republican candidate, Michael Bloomberg, because of his support for non-partisan municipal elections. (Under New York's fusion rule, Bloomberg could aggregate his votes on all ballot lines.) The 36,000 votes that Bloomberg received on the Independence Party ballot line slightly exceeded his margin of victory over the Democratic (and Working Families Party) candidate, Mark J. Green. In the municipal election of 2003, Bloomberg and Fulani were among those endorsing a proposed amendment to the New York City Charter to establish non-partisan elections, but it was rejected by the voters.

Fulani is now (as of 2004) on the executive committee of the Independence Party of New York, along with Newman.

Buchanan controversy

During the 2000 election, Fulani shocked many when she endorsed Pat Buchanan, then running on the Reform Party ticket. Some papers incorrectly reported that Fulani was Buchanan's running mate, but this position actually belonged to Ezola Foster. Fulani did, however, serve for a time as a campaign advisor. This was seen as a strange meeting of two ends of the political spectrum who had very little in common, though both candidates had previously been accused of anti-semitism. However, both Buchanan and Fulani related in populist language that they represented marginalized groups who were fed up with the two-party system. Fulani later withdrew her endorsement of the Buchanan campaign on the grounds that it had "hijacked" the Reform movement in order to further Buchanan's own right wing agenda. [1] (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=18111) Foster responded by claiming that Fulani was quite clear on Buchanan's objectives both before and while she worked with him. [2] (http://www.buchanan.org/db00-0622.html)


Community work

Fulani has worked on a number of community outreach projects. In 1984, she helped found the Castillo Cultural Center in New York City, which produces plays dedicated to multiculturalism. She and Newman also founded the All Star Project theater group with similar intentions. This group came under fire from the Anti-Defamation League for its play titled Crown Heights, a dramatization of the events surrounding the 1991 riots in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. The ADL saw the play as distorting the Jewish role in the violence. [3] (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/BkJew_21/4446_21.htm)

In 1987 she began a friendship with Al Sharpton, marching with him and supporting his position in the famous Tawana Brawley case. In the years to come, Sharpton and Fulani publicly backed each other on various issues and endorsed each others' campaigns, but Fulani felt betrayed when in 1992 Sharpton ran for the U.S. Senate from New York as a Democrat rather than as an independent.

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