Hamil R. HarrisNational

Young African Americans’ Efforts Aimed at Ensuring Black Community Votes in November

With the Nov. 3 presidential election just a few months away, and as President Trump and his operatives are busy condemning mail-in voting and other vital services as fraudulent, young African Americans are focused on mobilizing voters across the country.

From the Black Phoenix Organizing Collective in Arizona to the Soul 2 Soul Sisters in Colorado and Detroit Action in Michigan to the Family Action Network Movement in Florida, young people of color have formed the political equivalent of an “invisible empire” when it comes to urging voters to hit the polls.

“We will rise to the occasion despite a tsunami of issues,” said Melanie Campbell, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation president. “There is a high level of issues in this election, but the challenges remain. [The coronavirus] hasn’t gone anywhere in states with large Black populations, the attack against the U.S. Postal Service, but folks are still going to come out.”

Campbell said on Monday that more than 100 organizations took part in a ZOOM conference titled “Are You Ready2Vote?” to disseminate information that ensures the Black community votes on Nov. 3.

“People need to vote as early as possible. We are going to push mail-in ballots,” Campbell said. “In August, people need to ask their friends, ‘are you ready to vote?'”

In addition to traditional civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, Urban League, and the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights Under Law, there are independent groups that have organized to get votes done via tier efforts.

For example, there are 13 Tier 1 Battle Ground states that include; Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Texas, Iowa, Maine, Montana and Nevada.

Another national organization, Black Voters Matter, not only focuses on voting but other Black-related issues as well.

“I do see energy of young people. You can see it through the protest movement, one of the blessings of the coronavirus and there is a shift in how we do things,” said Rev. Tony Lee, pastor of Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills. “I believe that this is a great opportunity because young people spend so much of their time online.

“Several organizations have really used smart online campaigns as opposed to going door to door,” Lee said “I am part of the Black Church PAC and we are about to do our own virtual bus tour. Most organizations that do traditional get out to vote efforts have been forced to look at things through a different lens. This challenge has become a blessing.”

Rev. L.K. Floyd, pastor of Heart Changers Baptist Church in Silver Spring and president of the Coalition of Churches and Community, also weighed in, saying that, “we are sharing with pastors of congregations to share with their members the importance of voting and we are pushing voter awareness among members of our community leaders. In September, we will start our online push for the voter registration. We are calling it ‘Marching to the Polls.'”

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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