We Must Turn Out The Black Vote, Because Our Lives Depend On It
Ariel Skelley
If all eligible members of the Black community rise to the occasion and vote this election season, we can take control of our fate and future of our community. With less than one month until this cycle’s critical midterm elections, now is the time to bring the frustrations of this burgeoning movement into laser focus and apply its power to the fight for social justice and a better America. As the nation’s leading civil rights organization, the NAACP is bringing its activist roots to the forefront through a new civic engagement campaign to target low and moderate propensity voters, increase and maximize the Black vote, and effectively engage a population that will ultimately have the power to influence the outcome of these midterms and elections to come. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Black voter turnout declined for the first time in 20 years. This—coupled with the fact that midterm election turnout is traditionally older, less diverse, and lower compared to presidential cycles—makes it imperative that we identify where Black voters can make a difference in electoral outcomes. We have seen that Black women, especially, have the power to transform our voting influence. These women not only feel that Trump has consistently disrespected them, but they have brought their dissatisfaction to the polls, stepping up and stepping out to boast high turnouts in recent primary and special elections. NAACP’s new strategy aims to do the same by shaping a new culture of voting and bringing the Black community together as a potent political force with the power to build a political infrastructure that will improve the lives of our community. The NAACP worked with GSSA, LLC, a Colorado data analytics group and partner in the initiative, to map out metrics for the Black community to impact the elections and identify parity in registration and Black voter turnout in battleground states. The campaign will not only be critical in voter participation for close State Legislative races, but could also shift the political landscape in critical states across the country, including the widely watched Georgia and Florida gubernatorial races. Success, however, will be measured by more than simply counting new registrants or increasing voter turnout. Of equal importance will be a new and effective focus on leadership, discipline, organization structure, planning, coordination, implementation, and monitoring progress. The real test and aspiration rests in what we hope will be left behind: increased momentum, enthusiasm, and a foundation for future success. Voting needs to become ubiquitous to the Black community as quickly as possible. It is clear that this nation’s voting system wasn’t built for us, but we can make it work for us. When we become an organized, reliable voting bloc, we will be a force that cannot be ignored. Our lives, our very existence depend on it. Derrick Johnson is the President and CEO of the NAACP. Follow him on Twitter at @DerrickNAACP or @NAACP. Pledge to vote by Texting NAACP to 40649.