Voter Suppression: The Black Church Organize, Register and Vote!by Greater Diversity News September 27, 2014 0 comments
Educate, organize and mobilize — This year, as a part of an effort to mobilize Black Voters to vote in November, the Legislative Black Caucus and other leadership organizations invited predominately Black Churches to make Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014 into Freedom Sunday, a celebration of citizen rights in the United States and a day to kick off non-partisan congregational voter registration and education programs. The movement is concentrating especially on congregations that are predominantly African American, where the memories of the Freedom Summer of 1964 are more likely to be widely remembered. That was the summer when Freedom Riders of many races came to the American South to help African Americans register to vote. Their work helped lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – and reaction against their work caused the martyrdom of Freedom Riders Michael Schwerner, 24, of New York, James Chaney, 21, from Mississippi, and Andrew Goodman, 20, of New York, who disappeared near Philadelphia, Miss., June 21, 1964. Their bodies were later found buried in an earthen dam. http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2014/09/freedom_summer_sunday.html
For the nearly 40 years that I’ve been actively engaged in politics and voter mobilization, we’ve always recognized the pivotal role played by the Black Church Community. Many of you are involved in church based mobilization or know people and churches that are. I’ve not experienced any political season in my nearly 40 years of involvement that the issue of what churches can and cannot do in politics has not been discussed.
Of course, the question of what churches can or cannot do in politics is a current topic of discussion because the November 4, 2014 General Election is upon us. This week we’ll take a closer look at these questions and provide reliable information that can be used as a guide for churches that want to be a part of the solution in increasing Black Voter participation in November.
Democracy North Carolina has probably the best guide for the church community that is seeking information and guidance about what churches can and cannot legally do politically. It is entitled Election Activity Guide for Faith-Based Communities. The most basic point that the guide makes is that Faith communities can use their resources to encourage their members to vote without endangering their tax-exempt status if they stick to non-partisan activities. The guide outlines the permitted activities and ways that Democracy North Carolina can help. http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/Faith-BasedGuide2014.pdf
Of course, the guide specifically states that pastors have a First Amendment right to back a candidate but should be careful that their endorsement is not viewed as a church endorsement and that they should not promote a candidate or political party from the pulpit.
Lastly, it is extremely important that our Black Elected Officials, ministers and other community leaders volunteer and urge their congregations and constituents to volunteer and become the margin of victory in November.
GENERAL ELECTION SCHEDULE
Friday, October 10, 2014
Voter registration deadline
Thursday, October 23, 2014
One-Stop early voting begins
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Last day to request absentee ballots by mail
Saturday, November 1, 2014 (1:00 p.m.)
One-Stop early voting ends
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 (5:00 p.m.)
Last day to return an Absentee Ballot by Mail
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
General Election Day
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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on voter suppression. To join the campaign to defeat voter suppression please “Like” and follow us at www.facebook.com/votersuppression, “Share” our articles, and your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our website www.GreaterDiversity.com. Also, to promote the campaign to defeat voter suppression, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to follow the above-referenced recommendations. Additionally, please follow us on Twitter at @yourrighttovote: (https://twitter.com/yourrighttovote)