Keith Clayborne in Black and White

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On a bright afternoon a week after Eggelletion's election victory, state senator Mandy Dawson (D-Fort Lauderdale) is leaving Clayborne's home after an hourlong unannounced visit.

"I can't figure out what she really wanted," he says, walking into his paneled office. "But she brought this." In his hand is a palm-size translation of The Art of War by the Chinese general Sun-tzu, a 2400-year-old treatise that became all the rage among business executives, politicians, and senior military officers in the '80s. "She's going to be head of the Broward delegation [in Tallahassee]," Clayborne says, impressed. "That's a very powerful position."

He puts the book on his desk. Clayborne has never heard of Sun-tzu, but the significance of the gesture is clear: The head of Broward's delegation has come bearing gifts, in effect to kiss Clayborne's ring, to acknowledge his influence among Broward's black population. She even asked him to give her advice, to help her establish goals.

Clayborne claims to feel discomfort in that role, but he is also smiling.

"I told her she's the elected leader, and those matters are her business," he says. "But I did suggest she focus on just one thing that's doable, and get it done. One thing at a time."

He looks at the load of work facing him from desk and computer. That's for today. But for tomorrow? "I could see myself in the role of a political adviser someday," he muses.

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Roger Williams