National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said factions of state and federal lawmakers, working in concert with shady political operatives and violent extremists, are dangerously close to dismantling American democracy and establishing autocratic rule.
The organization’s 2022 State of Black America report outlines “the conspiracy and the urgent case for a national mobilization to protect and defend our most sacred constitutional right,” Morial noted in the report titled, “Under Siege: The Plot to Destroy Democracy.”
“The anti-democracy wave that began to rise after record-high Black voting rates in 2008 and crested with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder to gut the Voting Rights Act has now broken against ‘The Big Lie,’ the relentless campaign to invalidate the 2020 election,” Morial wrote.
Using data and analysis from research partner, The Brennan Center for Justice, the Urban League noted that this year’s edition of The State of Black America exposes the four main tactics employed in the plot: gerrymandering, voter suppression, misinformation, and intimidation.
“Politicians have used these tactics for generations, to exclude voters of color and to give their parties an edge,” Morial said. “But never before has the nation seen such an insidious and coordinated campaign to obliterate the very principle of ‘one person, one vote’ from the political process.
“It is an astonishing reversal of a two-century moral arc that has bent, if slowly and unevenly, toward universal suffrage,” he said.
In acknowledgment of Georgia’s status as “ground zero” in the assault on democracy, the Urban League released the report at an event at Clark Atlanta University featuring students from Atlanta’s four HBCUs, Urban League affiliate presidents from around the country, and other national civil rights leaders.
The release coincided with the 2022 launch of “Reclaim Your Vote,” the National Urban League’s civic engagement campaign, celebrated with a voter mobilization rally on the university’s Promenade.
A news release noted that, for the first time, The State of Black America includes a companion poll, the Pulse of Black America. Conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, the poll found that an overwhelming majority Black Americans believe strongly in the power of their vote to make a difference when it comes to social and racial justice, police violence, and economic opportunity.
“But almost as many agree that elected officials are not doing enough to protect voting rights and are in fact doing more to limit voting rights than to protect them,” the authors stated.
They said the 2022 Equality Index, the National Urban League’s semi-annual calculation of the social and economic status of African Americans relative to whites, is 73.9 percent, slightly up from the revised 2020 Index of 73.7 percent.
Rooted in the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, which counted enslaved African Americans as “three-fifths” of a person, the Index would be 100 percent under full equality, the authors wrote.
Officials said because of a lag in data collection, the 2022 Equality Index does not capture the full effect of the COVID-19 pandemic or the resulting economic recession, but does capture changes during the pandemic for homeownership, unemployment rates, and school enrollment.
“For these metrics, the 2022 Equality Index illustrates how precarious social and economic gains are for Black Americans,” said economist Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity, and Race, who analyzed the Index for the report.
“It is also evidence of how vulnerable Black Americans are to economic and public health crises. The Equality Index is an aggregate analysis of centuries of structural racism that can be a starting point for crafting policy to dismantle anti-Black racism in America.”