#VotingWhileBlack digital campaign seeks to mobilize African-American voters
By Zenitha Prince
Trice Edney News Wire
Color Of Change, which bills itself as the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, has kicked off #VotingWhileBlack, a digital campaign meant to mobilize African-American voters to flood the polls on Election Day.
Launched under the banner of the organization’s political action committee, the campaign seeks to rally Black voters behind specific candidates based on their stances on issues central to the Black community such as police violence, criminal justice reform and the lack of investment in Black schools and communities.
“This is a truly unprecedented program that’s laser-focused on mobilizing Black voters around the issues that matter most to our community,” Color Of Change PAC spokesman Rashad Robinson said in a statement. “Down ballot races, like those for district attorneys, often don’t get much attention. But, we know all too well how much the perspective and practices of these local prosecutors impact Black communities. Rather than shoving these races to the sidelines, #VotingWhileBlack puts them front and center in our voter outreach—and we’re doing so by engaging our communities not on the basis of political parties, but based on building independent political power that will be around after the election to hold those we support accountable. We’re translating the presence and visibility of our issues into the power to change the rules.”
The initiative is being powered by activities such as text-a-thons, which have been hosted by partners that include entertainment star John Legend, National Nurses United, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. The campaign also reaches out to voters via e-mail drives and digital ads and provides online voting tools.
The PAC’s leaders said the goals of the campaign go way beyond Nov. 8.
“A key part of our program is holding politicians accountable after Election Day,” said Arisha Hatch, Director of Color Of Change PAC. “For far too long, elected officials have pursued Black folks’ votes, but then failed to champion our issues once they’re in power. We’re mobilizing Black communities to vote strategically, shape political agendas, move the needle on key issues, and ultimately hold elected officials accountable for the promises they make at election time.”
Studies show that Black voters and other voters of color are having an increasing impact on elections. According to the Center for American Progress, at least 30 percent of eligible voters heading to the polls this November are people of color. And, Black women voters are expected to be particularly important: In 2012 and 2008, African-American women turned out to the polls at the highest rate of any group; four years ago, for example, 74 percent of eligible voters among this group helped power President Obama to a second term in office.