Educate, Organize, Mobilize – Over the past several weeks grassroots leaders and Black Elected Officials have combined their efforts to address serious voter apathy in Black communities, and voter suppression. Recently the NC Black Elected Municipal Officials (NC BEMO) and the NC Association of Black County Officials (NCABCO) have joined the NC Caucus of Black School Board Members (NCCBSBM), and a coalition of Black publishers to co-sponsor our Voter Rights Forums.
The NAACP has declared massive voter mobilization to be its primary goal of 2016. Let’s end voter suppression.
As a result of our first forum and the planning of our next forum, voter apathy and suppression emerged as major issues that dictate the need for a major response. In my opinion, only Black Elected Officials can adequately address the apathy issue and only by providing a clear understanding of their unique value to our communities. Their response must be taken to the Black community at-large by the Black Press and grassroots activists. Many activities to defeat voter suppression are already taking place.
Last week I met with the executive committee of the NCABCO. Our meeting was very enlightening and thoroughly engaging. I expected to do a ten minute presentation on our Voter Rights Forums and it lasted nearly two hours of their three hour meeting. We discussed voter apathy, some probable causes and ways that they as elected officials could help address it. We discussed the historic growth of Black political power over the past 40 years and the commitment of Black Elected official to replicate that success in the growth of economic opportunities and voter suppression.
At the end of the meeting the NCABCO signed on as a co-sponsor of our forums in the future. Several NCABO members agreed to help bring a forum to the triangle in order to provide Wake, Durham and Orange County voters, grassroots activist and elected officials with a more convenient location to engage in our efforts of voter protection and expansion. Commissioners from all triangle counties were present and actively engaged in our discussions. I was also able to announce our next forum scheduled for Pitt County, Greenville, NC. Pitt County Commissioner, Mary Perkins-Williams was in attendance and actively engaged in our discussions.
Additional details for our next forum have been confirmed for Greenville on Saturday, January 9th 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It will be held at The Greenville Terrace, BET Community Building, which is located at 120 Park Access Rd., Greenville, NC 27834. We are happy to announce that our Greenville forum is being hosted by the Eastern North Carolina Civic Group (ENCCG) under the leadership of the Honorable Fred Yates. Our forums are free and open to the public.
Although there are numerous causes of voter apathy, the 24/7 negative critique of politics by the news media and Black voters failure to receive equity in economic patronage from the system, have left many Black voters disenchanted and less committed to voting.
On last Friday the NC NAACP met with the NC Black Publishers Association and both parties agreed to work together to promote Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J), and other voter participation efforts going forward. The NAACP has declared massive voter mobilization to be its primary goal of 2016. The Black Press has agreed to help realize that goal.
On Sunday I was a guest on The Larry Hall Radio Show. It was my second appearance on his talk show to discuss our voter rights activities.
Rep. Larry Hall is the Democratic Leader of the NC House of Representative. We had a lively discussion of the various developments relating to our forums and the desperate need to address voter apathy if we’re to protect our vested interest in politics and economics. He has invited me back to update his audience as the need arises.
Black publishers long believed that parties and candidates that expect to be elected with large blocks of Black votes should support subscription drives, advertise campaigns and promote other avenues for the Black press to generate revenue. In this age of the Super PACs and billion dollar campaign expenditures, far too often substantial campaign funds are spent with main stream media and peanuts with the Black Press. It’s like the Black vote is free.
While considering voter apathy,voter suppression and the impact that inadequate economic opportunity and development have played in sustaining it, I’ve reflected on recommendations that I think should be considered going forward. There are several progressive economic development and wealth creation initiatives that have been tried in the past and I think they should be pursued anew. Today, here in North Carolina with our enormous political power as represented by our Black elected officials and our tremendous social justice movement as represented by the NAACP, our chances for success are much greater than they were in days gone by.
Our voter rights forums are a part of our way forward and should be embraced as one of our new and creative ideas. The forums will address voter apathy, suppression and economic equity as we continue to pursue the massive voter turnout that we need in November 2016.
Following are the publications supporting our forums: The Fayetteville Press, The County News, The Carolina Times, The Winston-Salem Chronicle, 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 atwww.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. (December 17, 2015). •