Yvonne Lewis Holley Vies to Make history as First Black NC Lieutenant Governorby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer June 19, 2020
A GDN Election 2020 Special
When the smoke cleared after the March 3rd primaries two months ago, suddenly, the prospect that North Carolina’s next Lieutenant Governor would be an African American became real.
True that briefly, there was the question of a runoff on the Democratic side (black Republican newcomer Mark Robinson won outright with the GOP), but that settled quickly, and Representative Yvonne Lewis Holley (D – District 38 – Wake) was crowned the winner, and the party standard-bearer going into November.
Since then, she’s had to build a statewide campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the restrictions that come with it. And yet, people are responding, she tells GDN, making the journey to becoming the first African American female Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina history, well worthwhile.
And as her campaign builds steam, it also benefits the other black female Democrats on the ticket – Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes for state Labor Commissioner, and North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. Also, there are other Black candidates on the statewide ballot, notably, Judges Lora Cubbage and Reuben Young, running for the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
“The campaign is going along very well,” Representative Holley told GDN, noting how the pandemic has slowed fundraising somewhat. Since she is not able to travel as much as she’d like, Rep. Holley is using social media platforms and Zoom to build on her statewide network of support going toward November.
But Representative Holley is also using the time that she is not campaigning, or in session with the NC General Assembly, to help the needed during the pandemic, either working with, or sponsoring food drives for those who have lost their jobs.
“You know I can’t sit still,” she jokes. “I started going to a couple of these food giveaways, and I walk up and notice that they have a whole lot more cars lining up than they do people trying to load them and do the work, so I started working them.”
“And I had the opportunity to co-sponsor one, which I did. The need is great. We can’t sit in judgment of people during this time because everyone across the spectrum is very much in need,” Representative Holley says.
Holley’s service represents the heart of her campaign – addressing food desserts where low-income communities have no nearby outlets for fresh foods and vegetables; finding solutions to expand affordable housing across the state; establishing a greater economic and workforce development in both rural and urban communities; in addition to an improved transportation infrastructure, and better public education.
And as a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Representative Holley is a firm believer in Divine Nine outreach to students on both HBCU and predominately white institution campuses when it comes to the importance of voting.
“Our Greek organizations should be at the forefront of voter education, registration and mobilization efforts on all college campuses because of their national and statewide networks,” Rep. Holley told GDN. “They should play a major role. They can unify really quickly under one umbrella for the good of everybody.”
GDN agrees with Representative Holley and believes that, as goes Greek voters on campuses, so goes student turnout. There is a growing belief that Greeks should have a reputation for voter mobilization to add to the other great civic engagement activities that they are known for. The more aware they are that students are being targeted for voter suppression, the more they’re committed to voter mobilization.
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