The Voter Empowerment Summit: Black America’s Third Reconstructionby Peter Grear January 14, 2015 0 comments
As reported earlier, the Voter Empowerment Summit (The Summit) being convened by NC House Democratic Leader, Larry Hall and the NC Alliance of Black Elected Officials Chairman, Richard Hooker had to be postponed because of insurmountable conflicts. It has been tentatively re-scheduled. Recently, the Black Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party has signed on as a Summit convener. My apology to other organizations that also signed on as sponsors but I’m unable to list them all at this time. However, we will publish a more expanded and updated list in the future.
(photo caption: From the 1964 voter registration campaign known as Freedom Summer.)
For more than a year I’ve been writing about voter suppression and the existential threat that it represents to Black people in general and America in particular. While we’ve been addressing The Summit we’ve been mindful of the fact that voting and economic opportunity are virtually one and the same and therefore will be equally addressed at The Summit. Any meeting that addresses Black voting rights necessarily addresses voter suppression. Because the NC Voter ID law will be in effect in November 2016 it demands our immediate attention and we’re planning a special focus to address the dangers it represents.
On Saturday past, I did a presentation to the Eastern North Carolina Civic Group meeting in which I outlined our primary objectives for the Summit. In addition to addressing issues specifically related to the right to vote we discussed the fruits of voting. Recently, the Honorable G.K. Butterfield was elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. As a part of his acceptance speech, Congressman Butterfield was quoted as saying “America is not working for Black people.” His clear point was that when it comes to economic opportunity, America is and always has been hostile to the legitimate expectations of Black people. Thankfully, the Congressman was represented at our meeting on Saturday and his representative outlines efforts of Congressman Butterfield to address economic opportunity as it relates to Black communities.
The Honorable Richard Hooker, Chairman of the Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Official was also in attendance and indicated that presently there are over 600 Black Elected Officials in North Carolina. As a part of our Summit we intend to release information developed by the Alliance that addresses spending by public bodies through contracts for goods and services. Their information along with other available information clearly shows that Black communities and people are not receiving anything close to a fair share of public jobs or opportunities awarded by public bodies through contracts for goods and services. These jobs and opportunities are the “fruits’ of voting and Black people are entitled to a fair share.
Going forward, I will be addressing voting, jobs and economic empowerment as components of the Third Reconstruction. To review what I’ve written about the First and Second eras of reconstruction refer to link #1 below.
As noted last week, I consider the decision by the Alliance to address jobs and the economic opportunity policies of their public bodies is the most positive political development that I’ve witnessed in North Carolina since the selection of Sen. Dan Blue as North Carolina’s first Black Speaker of the NC House of Representatives. With more than 600 Black Elected Officials taking a coordinated approach to insure that public jobs and contracts for goods and services are fairly awarded and by inviting input into their deliberations, as a community, we’ll all end up in a much better place. Of course there are hundreds of other elected officials that are serving because of Black votes and their support is also vital. See link #2 below for my article addressing political accountability.
Lastly, as more details of the summit are formalized and more information on the efforts of the Alliance is made available, we will provide updates. The summit is free and open to all. If your organization is interested in being a co-sponsor of the Summit, please send me an email stating the same.
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