If there ever was a time that Black people needed to fully understand the power of their Black dollar, as well as the need to emphasize the importance of putting their money where their true influence is, that time is now. The upcoming November 2018 elections are by far one of the most important election cycles in the history of the United States. More importantly, it is one that the Black community can’t afford to ignore.
African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the overall population in the U.S., and have a buying power so strong that it can’t be overlooked. While having a strong and consistent buying power in itself is a powerful asset for any group to have, turning that asset into a long-term moneymaker and wealth generation tool is the only thing that will strengthen the overall position and status of African Americans in this country, especially in the area of politics.
With this November election right around the corner, it is a prime opportunity for Black people to realize their true collective power by joining in with one another to create one of the most important movements of this era. It is time for Black people to take over the polls in every local, county, state and federal election in this country.
Yes! It is time for Black people to take over the polls — by any means necessary. This can only be accomplished by championing a concerted effort to register Black non-voters and by encouraging existing, registered Black voters to get out and vote.
One of the leading voices in the Black community is aggressively mounting a push towards registering new voters and increasing voter turnout in the Black community, beginning with the midterm elections and establishing a solid foundation that goes well beyond November.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade group that represents over 200 Black-owned media companies across the U.S., recently launched an initiative to register 5 million new Black voters before the midterm elections. This effort is a bold step that is sure to make a profound impact come November.
Benjamin Chavis Jr., NNPA president and CEO, is championing this bold initiative on behalf of a storied organization that is the largest and most influential Black-owned media resource in America, reaching more than 20 million readers, combined, in print and online, every week.
In addition to working with the publications within the NNPA, the campaign initiative will focus on an aggressive voter registration drive, community-level education on important issues and a mobilization effort, which are all designed to reach young, Black eligible voters, particularly in battleground states such as Texas and North Carolina.
“This coming November, the 2018 midterm elections will be one of the most important elections for American Americans in our lifetime,” Chavis said. “This is about voting rights and the enormous suffering and bloodshed that our people have experienced to make American democracy real and fair. Yet, this is also about responsibility.”
Chavis and the NNPA have also partnered with organizations like the NAACP, in order to accomplish the goal of registering these 5 million new Black voters.
“I am proud that the NNPA is encouraging and mobilizing the Black community to get 5 million more African Americans registered to vote across the nation,” Chavis continued. “We have to take over and overwhelm our political adversaries at the voting polls in 2018. This is a payback year! Now is the time!”
In order for African Americans to take over the polls effectively before November, however, there are several things that must be done to make it work and get the results needed to make a significant impact.
First and foremost, education about the importance of voting is critical in order to get as many Black people registered to vote as possible, as well as help them truly understand what’s at stake.
Secondly, political candidates must ensure that Black people become more familiar with who they are, which can only be done by effectively advertising in Black media outlets, like the Black newspapers, in their respective geographic locations.
Lastly, more accountability must be placed on the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party must do more, at every level, to cultivate and show appreciation for their loyal base of Black voters, if they want to truly see change during the midterm elections.
According to the Pew Research Center, 87 percent of Black voters identify with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic, compared with just 7 percent who identify as Republican or lean Republican. Black women are a driving force behind this high percentage of Black registered voters, and when they turn out, they make a huge difference.
Take the recent Alabama Senate race for example.
When Alabama Democrat Doug Jones faced a challenging, uphill battle against controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore in their special Senate election, it was Black voter turnout that made the difference. As a matter of fact, “Black voters turned out for the special election [in Alabama] at a higher level than their share of the electorate when Obama was on the ballot in 2008 and 2012,” according to CNN.com.
After getting reports that 96 percent of Black voters backed Jones and 98 percent of Black women voters supporting Jones, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez tweeted, “Let me be clear: We won in Alabama and Virginia because #BlackWomen led us to victory. Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we can’t take that for granted. Period.”
Strong, but true words from the DNC chair, but will those words translate into true appreciation for the power of the Black vote leading up to the November midterm elections and beyond?
The need for groups like the NNPA to work collaboratively with the DNC, community leaders and others committed to creating a political revolution, is paramount and necessary. The revolution must start now. However, it must go beyond the midterm elections and trickle down to the local, county and state races in a major way, as well.
This is just one election cycle, and while it may be one of the most important election cycles in our lifetime, the Black community must start today by aggressively educating, equipping and empowering Black youth, voting age adults and senior citizens, through information sharing and voter registration efforts to ensure their voices are heard loud and clear at the polls.
It is time for the African-American community to take over the polls this November, and beyond, by joining in with the NNPA to help register 5 million new Black voters.
Boney serves as associate editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times. Follow him on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.