Black Women Launch Major Voter Campaign For Mid-Term Election Cycle

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Donna Owens May, 11, 2018
Black women have proven a major voting bloc in presidential, Senate and local races across the country. Now comes a national campaign that is focused on harnessing that power and expanding its reach.
   
Today, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and its offshoot — the Black Women’s Roundtable — launched the Unity ’18 Black Voting & Power Building “Time4APowerShift” campaign in Atlanta, Georgia. The goal is to leverage the impact of the Black vote and collective leadership, with a special emphasis on the South, Black women, and young voters.

There will be an emphasis on getting out the vote in places where the Black vote will be key to shifting political power, such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.  

“We are galvanizing Black women’s collective voices and leadership, and working to maximize the power and influence of Black women voters in the 2018 midterm elections,” Melanie Campbell, president of NCBCP and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable told ESSENCE. “We’ve shown in the past that our voting bloc can shift elections and our presence is often a definitive factor in turnout. We are seizing the moment to create change.”

Unity ’18 is phase one of a four-year campaign that includes developing and organizing a long-term Black political and economic power building strategy. It will encompass the 2018 midterms, the 2020 Presidential election and more, including the 2020 census and redistricting that help will determine the balance of political power for the coming decade and beyond.  

Black women were the key voting bloc when Barack Obama won the presidency and re-election. In recent months, Black women have been pivotal in the election of Senator Doug Jones in Alabama and elections in Virginia.
 

Of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, voters will have the opportunity to elect 33 U.S. Senators, 36 governors, 87 of the 99 state legislative chambers, and vote on dozens of statewide ballot initiatives. Among them is Amendment 4 in Florida that restores the right to vote for some 1.6 million Floridians with prior felony convictions upon completion of their sentences. Other issues include civil rights, health care, education, gender equity, and more. 

The new campaign, said organizers, will partner more than 60 national and state-based organizations and networks, that are primarily led by Black women. 

They include Black Voters Matter, Southern Black Women’s Rural Initiative, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda/GA BWR, HBCU Green Fund Initiative/Clayton County GA BWR, Georgia StandUP and Black Youth Vote. 

LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter and an NCBCP board member, said Black women have always been on the vanguard of social change and progress in this country.

“We are in a defining moment in America’s political history that will determine whether we go backward or forward. I think this campaign is grounded in exactly the kind of work we need to move forward. We are centering the voices of Black women, supporting grassroots leadership and coordinating our efforts. When we work together, we win.”

Oleta Fitzgerald, the Regional Administrator for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic & Social Justice in Georgia, echoed a similar sentiment. She said the group was “enthusiastic” about connecting its intergenerational network of women and young women across to the campaign. “There is no more an important time for Black women’s voices and actions than now.”

Helen Butler, Convener of the Georgia Black Women’s Roundtable and Executive Director, Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, touted the influence of Black women in her state and nationwide. The nonpartisan group will work on voter registration, voter education, voter protection and voter mobilization activities, she said. “[We] will help to ensure our communities are able to decide who should represent them and their interests.”

“Black women lead with compassion and integrity,” adds Felicia Davis, convener of the Clayton County, Georgia Black Women’s Roundtable. We value healthy, productive families and we’re blazing a path forward in urban, rural and suburban communities especially in the South where our base is strong,” said Davis, who also serves as director of the Building Green Initiative/HBCU Green Fund. 

Delsa Guerrero-Castillo, President, Living Green Club at Clark Atlanta University and Black Youth Vote! member says, “We believe that adopting a healthy sustainable lifestyle is one of the most powerful steps an individual can make as we work to bring about changes on campus and in the community.” 

Deborah Scott, Executive Director of Georgia Stand UP, noted that there are two kinds of power: organized money and organized people.

“We must continue to [increase] power by building up the people power and organizing, one community, precinct, and block at a time. We have always known that Black women have untapped power, seen and unseen, now it’s time for us to stand up, connect our power grids, and lead our communities and the country.”

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