Educate, Organize, Mobilize —Our first Voter Rights Forum identified several challenging issues that have to be resolved if we’re to succeed in November 2016. As addressed in my article of November 12, the critical issues discussed were voter education, suppression, and mobilization. Another major issue that was discussed was voter apathy.
The top issues that we identified were basically consensus issues that came as no surprise to anyone. Throughout our time leading up to the November General Elections we will be addressing these and other critical issues necessary for protecting and expanding voter rights.
While Blacks are fighting and losing our battle against voter apathy, our opponents are fighting and winning the battle to prevent Blacks from voting. (See link No. 1 below)
The NC NAACP and Democracy NC are our lead organizations committed to voter rights protection. However, the NAACP has defined its primary goal for 2016 as promoting a massive voter mobilization. The NAACP needs support of all segments of our community to succeed in its efforts. It is aggressively engaged in major outreach efforts and need our unqualified support of its efforts. Of course, a long-standing NAACP project of community engagement is its annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J) gathering and mobilization. The HK on J gathering and mobilization for 2016 will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2016 in Raleigh. This year’s mobilization will focus on voting rights.
Two week ago, I announced that we had tentatively scheduled our second Voter Rights Forum for January 9, 2016. The date has been finalized and will be held in Greenville, NC. I’ll provide additional details as they become available. One of the people helping with our planning asked me whether we needed a forum to tell us that voter apathy was a major problem. She also asked what we plan to do when the talking stops.
No, we didn’t need a forum to tell us apathy is a major problem because we’ve recognized the ongoing danger of apathy for as long as I can remember. However, her question of what we plan to do about it must be answered for us to have success in 2016. My general thought is that the size of our community’s commitment must equal the size of our challenge to mobilize. It will not be easy, but we must overcome apathy. Supporting the efforts of the NAACP is a step in the right direction.
In addressing the issue of apathy, it is important to point out that the enemies of equality don’t suffer from apathy. The advocates of voter suppression don’t suffer from apathy. Those of us that suffer from apathy probably fall into two major categories. One major category is those that don’t quite understand the intent of our 400 year history of slavery, Jim Crow and voter suppression. That is they don’t understand history. The second major category is those that don’t quite understand what we lose without effective political representation. They don’t recognize the threat to our children’s public education, our jobs, our businesses, and equal opportunity.
Part of solving the problem of apathy includes our ability to demonstrate that as a people, we are better off as a result of participating in our political system. The objectives of the Black Lives Matter Movement will not be realized without very aggressive political participation. The objectives of current Black Student Movements around the country will not be realized without increased aggressive political participation. The United States is controlled by politics and if you don’t control politics, politics will control you. All of us will be controlled from birth to death and everywhere in between.
It is imperative that our Black elected officials demonstrate that they make a difference in our lives. Many that don’t vote don’t appreciate what they are losing as a result. Our elected officials should show and tell the value they bring to our communities. The better we understand the value of politics the more likely we are to participate. I am aware of efforts to better inform Black constituents of opportunities that are influenced and controlled by Black elected officials.
It is necessary to draw the connection between politics and economic opportunity in Black communities and businesses. I think that after 50 years of the Voting Rights Act and much too little economic success, a reflection on this topic will yield great value.
Of course, the lack of support for voting rights by Black churches also aids and abets voter apathy. There is nothing illegal or improper about ministers asking church goers to be registered and vote. To do otherwise is irresponsible. As happens during every elections cycle, there was a lengthy discussion at our forum about what if anything could be done to get our church community better engaged in our voter protection and expansion efforts.
Overall, the conclusion was that we have a lot of work to do and doing it will require a committed effort and commonality of purpose from all of us. Of course, our economic well-being is a core issue of apathy.
As we’ve previously noted, issues regarding the level of voter apathy, the lack of voter education and the pervasive efforts of voter suppression cannot be addressed with simple quick-fix solutions and they must be addressed.
On December 1st, the NC NAACP, Democracy NC, faith leaders, and other coalition partners launched the It’s Our Time | It’s Our Vote voter empowerment campaign. This long-term, issue-based, non-partisan voter registration, education, mobilization, and protection campaign will work across North Carolina and will build a foundation for meaningful participation in our Democracy long after 2016. To get involved in the It’s Our Time campaign. (See link No. 2 below).
The publications that are supporting our voter rights forums are The Fayetteville Press, The County News, The Carolina Times, The Winston-Salem Chronicle, The Carolina Peacemaker and Greater Diversity News. Please subscribe to and look to these publications for ongoing coverage as this project continues to evolve and share your ideas on what we can do to improve this project and our coverage.
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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News 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/greaterdiversitynews , “Share” our articles and post your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our websites www.GreaterDiversity.com. Finally, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to like and follow our page.
Link No. 1 http://nbcnews.to/1LNRPeq
Link No. 2 http://bit.ly/1Pv7mHM •