Back on May 21, 2015 I wrote a commentary entitled A Battleground for Voter Suppression. The purpose of that article was to highlight the fact that North Carolina will be a battleground state in 2016 and that those candidates whose successes are dependent upon Black voter participation need to fund outreach to Black voters through the Black press. I also announce to some opinion leaders that in July of this year Greater Diversity News is publishing a special edition addressing voter participation in 2016.
Although the substance of my commentary met with favor, outreach to some opinion leaders and candidates went un-answered. I presume that some of the silence is due to advertising cost related to the special edition on the part of candidates. Candidates silence is understandable but opinion leaders need to join the discussion. Historically, advertising dollars to the Black press have been meager while huge sums are spent with traditional media. My intent is to outline the error of failing to adequately support Black papers.
I remind our readers that I’ve monitored and written about voter suppression virtually non-stop since at least June of 2013. I’ve been involved in the mobilization of Black voters around the state for nearly 40 years. I’ve yet to see a capable organized response to voter suppression by the Black community. The NAACP and Democracy NC are making aggressive efforts to protect minority voting rights but without massive help their efforts will fall short of what is needed. As I’ve written before, to defeat voter suppression, the beneficiaries of Blacks and others targeted with voter suppression laws need substantial financial, educational, and organizational resources targeted to the Black press for the effort. And of course we need them now.
I understand that Advance North Carolina is the organization designated to do the lions-share of voter mobilization for 2016. Of course we should all support them, but for several reasons I believe that they are over-tasked and under-funded. If and when I’m able to interview the leadership of the organization I’ll report to our readers. Part of why I believe they’re over-tasked is because a planned voter mobilization effort should have begun immediately after the 2014 General Election. History tells me that Advance NC will be under-funded.
On Saturday past, I presented to the ENCCG (Eastern North Carolina Civic Group) on the topics I’m discussing herein. They’re led Mayor Fred Yates and James Sears, both well known for their tireless support of Black voting rights and voter mobilization. The Civic Group is composed of part or all of 22 counties in the northeastern North Carolina black belt. The members and leader were not aware of any planned efforts to organize and mobilize through Black churches or otherwise.
I firmly believe that voter suppression is the issue that will determine statewide and national races on the 2016 ballot. Voter suppression is a very, very complex issue that requires very strategic messaging to educate Black voters. I’ve not seen any effort outside the NAACP and Democracy NC addressing this issue and they can’t do it alone. I’ve been writing on the topic and will continue to do so, if I’m off-base I need to hear other thoughts so that I can get it right and report the actual status of our mobilization to our readers.
The title of our July special edition is The Third Reconstruction. Our mission is to organize and mobilize efforts aimed at creating political, economic, and social justice. Voter suppression is more understandable when taught in the context of the different eras of Reconstruction. A June 14, 2015 article in the News & Observer helps to prove my point. In his editorial, Colonel Saunders, UNC and Southern Reconstruction revisited, Joseph H. Saunders, the nephew of “Colonel Saunders”, the Emperor of the Invisible Empire known as the Ku Klux Klan, wrote “Saunders did represent the legal and political system in the South, but taking his name off the building should not lead anyone to believe the vestiges of the system he helped design do not persist today. Current political measures to restrict minority voting rights are an example of that continuing struggle for social justice”. http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article23880409.html
Our plan to engage is quite simple, use the Black press to educate our Black church community and others to the threat that voter suppression poses to the well-being of Black communities and outline steps that can be taken to defeat the aspirations of the advocates of voter suppression. The task may seem simple but it is by no means easy. The task will require responding to the resources of the rich and the super-rich as exemplified by the likes of Art Pope, the Koch Brothers and many other monied elites that are funding this vicious, un-democratic attack on the citizenship of Blacks and others.
I envision a strategy that involves Advance NC designing the materials for our churches and processing the results. I envision the Black press messaging to our churches and mobilizing voter protection efforts. I don’t think Advance NC has the time or relationships necessary for effective messaging.
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