Educate, organize and mobilize – (www.thethirdreconstruction.com) – This past weekend I attended the 10th NC Black Summit of the Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials (ANCBEO). The Alliance is presently led by the Honorable Richard Hooker, Chairman. I participated as a writer and activist, not as a disinterested observer. Herein, I’ll address four-five observation and comment on them. Because of my arrival time, I was unable to attend all sessions so I’ll address the objectives of those I missed in a more general fashion. Also, because many, if not all of the issues discussed at the Summit are impacted by voter participation, many of my observations relate to multiple issues.
I missed the Thursday presentations by candidates for Lt. Governor and also the Friday, opening session presentation by Anita Earls, Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ). Both of these items have specific relevance to the access of Black and other progressive voters to the ballot box in 2016 and beyond. The candidates for Lt. Governor need votes and the SCSJ is part of the legal team fighting to overturn the multi-faceted collection of voter suppression laws enacted by the NC General Assembly in 2013.
I was asked to give my opinion on the expected outcome of the multiple court challenges to the voter suppressions laws. I’ve been doing ongoing commentaries on voter suppression since 2013. My opinion is very simple; we must educate, organize and mobilize as if every court decision will be against us and in favor of the voter suppression laws. We cannot afford to sit back and await court decisions. We need to be mobilizing!
I missed the session on Public Safety and the Community, but it is safe to say that the support for this year’s Anti-Racial Profiling legislation introduced by Rep. Rodney Moore, NC House of Representatives enjoyed virtually unanimous support. The Community Health Update that I attended provided timely information and advice on how individuals and communities could better address their health care needs.
Back to the ballot box; the Town Hall presentation of Gerald Taylor of Advance North Carolina, created a bit of anxiety in me because of the scope of its mission and the effort needed to succeed. Advance North Carolina seeks to empower and mobilize African American progressive voters to take charge of their communities by sustained organizing. It seeks through organizing, drive committed and issue-oriented, and a community-based political infrastructure, to activate African-American political influence. Its challenge is huge but I’ll not evaluate its likelihood of success because I remember back in 2008 I evaluated the chances of then candidate, Barack Obama organizing and mobilizing NC voters, and I was wrong.
However, other than the obvious challenge of providing Voter ID to over 300,000 Black voters, there are numerous other voter suppression laws in play and the party that passed the voter suppression legislation is in charge of the State Board of Elections as well as the county boards in all 100 NC counties. This gives me heart-burn.
I also attended the session on Economic Development and Public Financing and the Town Hall presentation of the ANCEBO/NCA&T Leadership Studies Strategic Research Partnership. The ANCEBO/NCA&T collaborative, under the leadership of Dr. Forrest Toms, an important and necessary disparity study and analysis was done by his PhD. students. The study showed that Black businesses are not receiving a fair share of contracting dollars from NC public bodies. The A&T student researchers did a parallel study to address the same issue for NC Caucus of Black School Board Members. The name was different but the revelation was the same. All of the research information is designed to educate our elected officials on the state of Black business exclusion in North Carolina so that they can design collective strategies to address it. I’ve written about what I think should be a parallel project that will have a positive impact on voter participation and support for Black businesses.
Briefly, the most valuable asset of “all elected officials” is the voters that elect them to office. Many of our people continue to question why they should vote. My thought is that our elected officials should convene a gathering of voters and have a wide-ranging, open discussion on what elected officials should and could be doing to reward their most precious asset, the voters. I think the researchers, afore-mention or otherwise should do a disparity study that shows how the officials that we elect to office dispense the patronage opportunities that are inherent in their offices.
The presentation by Jennifer Johnson, Esq., on the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute (MBLI) was very impressive and I told her so. The MBLI is an invitational institute for emerging leaders from various disciplines across the state of Mississippi, who participates in a nine-month curriculum of civic engagement, public policy and governance, state history, and relationship development. It is an effort to prepare and produce a cadre of informed, socially conscious transformative leaders and public servants. Graduates of the Leadership Institute help to advance, advocate and articulate an agenda for equity in their respective communities. This is a Third Reconstruction initiative and I’ll send them information of the Third Reconstruction in hopes that they will refer to it as such and that other Black leadership organizations will replicate their efforts.
Going forward, I will continue to highlight as many initiatives as possible that appear to be Third Reconstruction initiatives. At its core, MBLI is working for a non-racial, multi-ethnic, equal opportunity America. The initiative seeks to complete the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movements.
On our blog, www.TheThirdReconstruction.com, we plan to conduct ongoing, in-depth discussions on Third Reconstruction initiatives. It is important that comments be made on our Facebook pages and our blog. Most Facebook posts get lost after a few posts or after a few weeks but we can thread blog messages to last forever. Our blog will be used as a teaching tool by individuals and organizations interested in understanding the political context of economic, political, and social justice.
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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News and www.thethirdreconstruction.com with a primary focus on political, social and economic justice. To support our efforts, to unite our politics and economics, please “Like” and follow us at www.facebook.com/ThirdReconstruction. Please “Share” our articles and post your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our websites www.GreaterDiversity.com and www.thethirdreconstruction.com. Finally, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to like and follow our pages. •