The Black Clergy: Mission Against Voter Suppression – Educate, Organize and Mobilizeby GDN Shared Post June 29, 2015
Over the past few weeks 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.
An example of the Black clergy gearing up to protect voting rights is demonstrated in the recent call by Dr. James C. Perkins, Progressive National Baptist Convention (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. We urge our readers to help with our outreach to the clergy and other community leaders.
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. Congressman John Lewis, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., met with about 70 members of PNBC on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 25, 2015. (See link below). We must call upon all of our clergy to join our opposition, follow the example of PNBC and the fight against the (400) four hundred year efforts to deny Blacks the right to vote.
In his plea to the clergy, Congressman Lewis stressed the urgency of addressing voter suppression. Referring to the Voting Rights Act he said, “We need to fix it before next year’s election. We’ve got to do it, brothers and sisters,” said Lewis, D-Ga., “We have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to do it.” The Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church — where King once served as Pastor — said his church registers people to vote when they become new members. He said “Part of the response to massive voter suppression is massive voter registration and massive voter activation,” he said. “That’s part of the solution.” (See link below).
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 by them must be deployed. All Black elected officials should adopt the defeat of voter suppression as a primary mission from now until November 8, 2016. They must 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 funding for Black publishers as 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.
As I wrote last week, the Black press should be a primary tool used to educate, organize, and mobilize Black voters, ministers and communities as only the Black press can. It should be adequately funded with advertising dollars that provide the operating capital that we need to deliver for our people and for the other progressives that depend on the Black vote to get elected. The way that the Black press has been utilized in past elections will not be adequate for the mobilization needed in November, 2016.
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