Ahead of the all-important 2022 midterm elections, reports show that more than 55 million Americans remain unregistered to vote – including about 10 million Blacks, eligible to vote but unregistered.
Whether apathy, suppression or other reasons account for the massive number, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Transformative Justice Coalition seek to get to the bottom of why, with so much at stake, voter registration and GOTV mobilization remain lacking across the nation, particularly among Blacks.
During the recent national convention in New Orleans which marked the 195th-anniversary celebration of the Black Press of America, leaders of both organizations announced a get-out-to-vote campaign aimed at registering and mobilizing GOTV for 10 million more African Americans to vote in time for the 2022 midterms.
“The NNPA has talked about the vote and there is no better time for us to show our power,” NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards said during the announcement at the national convention.
“Let us take the lead and not be on the tail-end so we can show the present-day power of the Black Press,” continued Richards, who publishes the Houston Forward Times.
“This is a great opportunity for us; we’ve got to make this happen,” Attorney Barbara Arnwine, founder and president of the Transformative Justice Coalition, and her board chair and fellow lawyer Daryl Jones told a captivated panel, noting that their organization had recorded 72 voter suppression tactics aimed at preventing a large population from casting ballots.
Among those tactics: strict voter laws in many Republican-led states, deceptive practices including robocalls, cuts for early voting and voter intimidation.
“Black voters did our share in 2020,” Arnwine said. “Ninety-three percent of all eligible Black voters registered in Georgia. And in the 2021 Georgia Senate run-off, 93 percent of all registered Black voters turned out. People don’t understand where the real power is.”
Along with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Richards, NNPA Executive Board members Janis Ware, Fran Farrer, Cheryl Smith and Jackie Hampton, Arnwine and Jones announced that the two groups will utilize a multivehicle “votercade” to get out the vote.
Individuals riding in new and COVID-safe tour buses will hit swing states ahead of the November elections to register and mobilize GOTV with a goal of 10 million new Black voters.
Chavis said artists from Roc Nation, the company run by hip-hop magnate and business mogul Jay-Z, will accompany the votercade in some cities.
Music superstar Stephanie Mills also pledged to get on the bus with the Black Press and the Transformative Justice Coalition.
Chavis said he’s convinced other celebrities will also join the national GOTV campaign.
“The first form of voter suppression is self-suppression,” Dr. Chavis said. “This last primary election showed that some of us were keeping ourselves from voting. There are 55 million unregistered Americans eligible to vote and 10 million are African Americans.”
“What if those 10 million were registered? We wouldn’t have worried about Donald Trump or the craziness of what the U.S. Supreme Court is doing now. Elections have consequences. The overturned Roe v. Wade, the overturned gun laws – are consequences of elections,” he said.
With more than 235 African-American-owned newspapers and media companies serving as members, the NNPA represents the Black Press of America.
The Transformative Justice Coalition’s mission includes the systematic change that achieves racial justice, gender, economic and social justice and human rights through public education and engagement initiatives. Further, the coalition dedicates itself to informed civic engagement and equal voting rights for everyone.
They use a voting rights map of shame to inform the public of threats to America’s democracy, how to protect their voting rights, and steps to take to ensure the ability to cast a ballot and make sure it’s counted.
The organization also seeks the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons.
“[Anti-voting rights organizations and individuals] have trained 10,000 people to be poll disruptors to go to only Black polling sites,” Arnwine said. “They’re not sending them to white polling sites and if you watched the [Jan. 6] hearings, this is a concentrated effort to disempower Black voters.”
According to Davis, more than 18 million people are eligible to vote but don’t know it.
“They are the felony disenfranchised,” Davis said. “They are confused. It’s intentionally done in various states. For example, in some states, you never lose your right to vote, and in some states, you can run for office if you’re incarcerated.”
Planners of the votercade believe it will better educate voters and explain what’s legal.
“We’re calling on all 235 NNPA members – that call and response from our brothers and sisters is vital,” Dr. Chavis said. “It’s movement time; it is time Get-Out-The-Vote.”
“With the Transformative Justice Coalition, the NNPA will help move our people forward to get out this vote. In 2022, we will make the critical difference in the midterm elections in terms of increasing Black voter participation throughout the country,” he said.
Click here to view the announcement.