Washington, DC – A group of black women called on the spirits of the ancestors to empower them to fight against current efforts to suppress the Black vote during the fourth annual Power of the Sister Vote Intergenerational Policy Forum Series hosted by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s (NCBCP) Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. With artist Bernard Hoyes’ popular painting “In The Spirit” serving as a backdrop, the women urged the predominately female standing-room only crowd to get to work preparing their family and friends to vote early or on Nov. 6, 2012.
“It’s time for us to lead the way because we voted in greater numbers than any other gender and race group last election, and we have to do the same this year,” said Elsie Scott, president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
“We’re confident that Black women are going to the polls,” Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO NCBCP and convener, Black Women’s Roundtable added. “Our charge to you is to go back into your communities and make sure our brothers, sons and daughters are registered and prepared with proper ID to vote. Urge them to vote early or absentee if possible. There are people who are focused on stopping minorities and the poor from voting but we’re going to Stand Our Ground and make sure our people vote.”
An official session of the 2012 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, the BWR Power of the Sister Vote Series presented intergenerational discussions addressing the strategies being used to thwart black voting power. In Pennsylvania, for instance, it’s estimated that 758,000 registered voters do not have a PennDOT ID, the most common form of identification.
“While the legal challenges play out in the courts we must help voters get ready,” said Faye Anderson, project manager for the Cost of Freedom Project. “Millions of voters across the country will be in for a shock when they show up on Election Day and find out that for the first time, they must show a photo ID in order to vote.”
The Power of the Sister Vote series also allowed NCBCP state coordinators to discuss their ongoing voter engagement initiatives and share successful tactics to mobilize and protect the Black vote.
In Florida, in addition to hosting several Black Women’s Roundtable discussions across the state, Salandra Benton, convener of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation, is providing the elderly and shut-in with call lists so they can call to educate people about the voter ID laws, early voting dates and help people to verify their registration status.
In Ohio Peete Talley, convener of Ohio Unity Coalition, dispatched a couple of vans filled with volunteers armed with iPads and laptops to travel the state going into low-income and underserved neighborhoods educating people on the voter ID requirements and helping them to verify their registration status. The vans are still touring the state and will offer rides to the polls when early voting starts.
Jessica Brown, national Black Youth Vote! (BYV!) field coordinator said over 20 HBCU’s have signed up to participate in the BYV HBCU Challenge, a vehicle to help prepare students to vote.
Actress, author and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph summed it up for the audience, ““We let this happen. We forgot the fight.” The Black Women’s Roundtable “Power of the Sister Vote Campaign” is a battle cry initiative to re-galvanize the Black community. The campaign is angled by the work of visual master Bernard Hoyes’ dramatic painting “In The Spirit.” Hoyes’ imagery speaks to and boldly upholds the determination of BWR to implement their mission. The “In The Spirit” image will be reprinted on church fans and flyers with “8 Things You Need to Know to Vote” on the back.
BWR is an intergenerational women’s network of the NCBCP (www.ncbcp.org), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement in Black and underserved communities. Get “in the spirit” with them at http://ncbcp.org/programs/bwr/policy/.