Educate, Organize and Mobilize – Last week I discussed the leadership role assumed by the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) in the call by Dr. James C. Perkins, (PNBC) President, and faith-based leaders to restore the Voting Right Act that was gutted on June 25, 2013 by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County vs. Holder. For several years I’ve been searching for signs that the Black clergy would engage in the important task of protecting hard won voting rights. It now appears to me that they’re engaged and it is now time for other community leaders to join their efforts.
In my article of last week I also reported that restoring the Voting Rights Act will be the predominant focus of PNBC during its Annual Session in Dallas, TX from August 2-7, 2015, with a major event culminating on August 6, 2015 marking the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Additionally, PNBC recently announced support for Hillary Clinton’s call for universal, automatic voter registration for every American in every state when they turn 18. As noted by Dr. Perkins, the policy stated by Hillary Clinton would end the chance for continued racial discrimination in registration and lessen it at the polls.
According to their website, www.pnbc.org, the PNBC is a vital Baptist denomination with an estimated membership of 2.5 million people. PNBC was formed to give full voice, sterling leadership and active support to the American and world fight for human freedom. The convention was the convention-denominational home and platform for the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who addressed every annual session of the convention until his death in 1968. New generations of Progressive Baptists are continuing the struggle for full voter registration, education and participation in society, economic empowerment and development, and the realization of universal human rights and total human liberation for all people
I’ve reviewed much of the content on www.pnbc.org and recommend their progressive agenda as a model for community empowerment in politics, religion, economics and social justice. Of the approximately 2.5 million members nationwide, I found a membership listing for churches all over North Carolina. Again, I think that it is in our best interest to develop a working relationship with PNBC as a strategic part of efforts to educate, organize, and mobilize to defeat voter suppression. I have started and will continue to do outreach to political and clergy leaders active in protecting voting rights and report the results.
Ours is a huge task that requires community support and funding. I’ve written about voter suppression and its growing threat to the well being of Blacks and other progressives. Last week I wrote about the need for the Black press to lead in the opposition to voter suppression. This week I’m happy to report that there is a growing consensus and coalition coming together to promote and protect voting rights. Although others are involved in the mobilization, necessary parties that are coming together include Black elected officials, the press and clergy.
Going forward, I will increase our coverage on the Black clergy, elected officials, and the press as they lead the response to voter suppression. I’m reminding our readers that in addition to the articles that I write, I’m covering the evolution of the clergy’s response on my Facebook pages listed below. Please post your comments on this topic and add your voice to the opposition.
Over the last (40) forty years here in North Carolina we’ve grown our representation of Black officials from a handful to over (600) six hundred. For us to defeat voter suppression a coordinated effort led by them must be employed. All Black elected officials should adopt the defeat of voter suppression as a primary mission from now until November 8, 2016. They must help lead efforts to educate, organize and mobilize community efforts to defeat voter suppression. They must help develop a state-wide strategy designed to create a massive voter registration and voter participation initiative. They are our official community leaders and must do consistent outreach to other community leaders to join their efforts. We need them to advocate for the funding of Black publishers as one of their necessary partners in community mobilization.
During the coming weeks I’ll continue to stress the roles of the Black press, clergy and elected officials. If either of these parties fails to fully engage, our chances of success will be greatly diminished.
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