Educate, Organize, Mobilize – Finally we have a bit of very good news to go with mounting voter suppression threats on the horizon. This week I’ll touch on voting rights forums that are being planned by Black publishers and Black elected officials. This is very good news. The very bad news is that voter suppression schemes are popping up nearly every day all over America. Alabama’s most recent scheme is a prime example of schemes that will surely come to North Carolina (See link No. 1 below).
Back in June of this year I wrote a commentary entitled The Black Press Must Lead (See linked No. 2 below). This week is a statement of the vision that Black press and elected leaders should pursue for November 2016 General Election success. While the vision is still under construction, certain aspects have been discussed and are consensus. Our leadership doesn’t guarantee success but it does improve our chances.
To date I’ve written approximately one-hundred (100) articles on various aspects of voter suppression and the ongoing threat that it represents to Black people and our historic pursuit for voting rights and social justice. For those that are not as familiar with this issue as they’d like to be, I recommend my past articles as an education resource.
There is general consensus that a statewide coalition and plan to respond to the threat is central to our vision. We know that there are organizations and individuals that recognize the danger to Black voting rights and are hard at work trying to protect them. Our forums will allow us to evaluate the various initiatives that are in place with plans to support and improve them. We will analyze the landscape and identify areas that need attention or shoring up. I’m encouraged with the positive responses to our plan for forums but must reiterate that “time is of the essence.”
Many of you that have followed the machinations of the North Carolina voter suppression tactics know that this year’s General Assembly revised some of the original voter suppression laws to try and avoid having some of them declared unconstitutional. This was their voter suppression “act two”, act one was the 2013 enactment of the NC Voter Suppression Act itself. Its legal name is the Voter Information Verification Act of 2013, but I think it is better described as the Voter Suppression Act. However going forward, the Republicans will try every trick in the book to disenfranchise Black voters and as long as they maintain control of the Governor’s office and General Assembly they are going to continue their efforts. Look for “act three.”
Last week the State of Alabama increased their voter suppression efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in their state. Alabama’s recent effort has been described as “voter suppression act two.” Although a drivers’ license is the most common form of voter identification in Alabama, their Republican control legislature and Governor shut down their driver license offices in the counties with the greatest number of Black voters. You see, according to John Archibald, a columnist for the Alabama Media Group and Al.com, “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their [driver’s] license office closed. Every one.” We don’t know whether we’ll see the Alabama tactic here in North Carolina, but rest assured, we will be seeing many new suppression schemes. We must be organized and mobilized to resist these tactics.
Moving toward the General Elections of November 2016, the Black press will continue to provide current information on activities, organizations and individuals that are playing significant roles in our efforts to protect voting rights and ballot access in November 2016 and beyond. While holding the forums, we will also engage in messaging and outreach in order to ensure that all that desire to help with the task of protecting our voting rights will know how to get involved.
Our forum will give leadership individuals and organizations an opportunity to present their visions of what they think are adequate plans to educate, organize, and mobilize our communities in a manner sufficient for us to win elections in November 2016. Our activist will be engage in the discussions and our publishers will be able to engage in messaging and outreach, based upon the presentations.
Because we plan to have multiple forums leading up to November 2016, our leaders and communities will be able to engage in ongoing dialogues to plan and evaluate strategies. By next week I’ll be able to provide more specifics about the elected officials, organizations and publishers that will be core participants in our forums.
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