After Fighting For Troy Davis, Activist Turns Focus To Elections

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This Black History Month, we honor the GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.

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Rashad Robinson, Black History Month 2012Rashad Robinson

Age: 33

Place of Residence: New York, N.Y.

Why he is a local hero: As the new head of Color of Change, Robinson is responsible for helping to challenge the messages coming out of the media during this crucial 2012 presidential election.

SEE ALSO: White House Director of Black Media Gives Community Presidential Access

Whether fighting to save the life of Troy Davis or helping to force clemency for Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio woman jailed for sending her child to a school outside of her district, Robinson has had his hands full since taking the reigns from Color of Change founder James Rucker in May.

Robinson, who previously served as senior director of media programs for GLAAD, planned to “dive in feet first.”

“We are dealing with a cultural landscape that is showing Black people as criminals on a regular basis,” says Robinson. “It’s not that every image has to be ‘The Cosbys,’ but right now we are dealing more with ‘Atlanta Housewives.'”

The images depicted from the media impact how people view the world. When Donald Trump was garnering news coverage for saying some very over-the-top things about President Barack Obama last year, Robinson and Color of Change struck back. Robinson called on “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants Star Jones and Lil Jon to speak out against Trump, organizing a Twitter push to pressure the pair to speak out.

“We’ve gotten a lot of people tweeting. (They) can’t have a relationship with the Black community and have a relationship with Trump and not call him out for his actions….They’ve remained in silence and now it is time for them to speak up,” said Robinson.

Now Color of Change is on a mission to stop attempts to change voter identification laws by the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Color of Change is targeting the companies that support ALEC.

The fact is that voter fraud rarely occurs, and when it does occur it does not happen at a scale that would change the outcome of an election. The kind of voter fraud addressed by the ALEC voter id bill happens as infrequently as death by lightning……The truth is that voter ID laws are discriminatory — Black people, Latinos, the elderly, students, people with disabilities, and the poor are all less likely to have the photo IDs necessary to vote under these laws.6

For example, if you’ve recently moved because of foreclosure or some other economic circumstance, you’re more likely to have recently ended up in a new state which won’t accept your out of state driver’s license. If you don’t have a car, you’re less likely to have a driver’s license in the first place, Robinson wrote on Color of Change’s website.

Using digital media, the group wants to pressure ALEC’s corporate supporters.

Some of the companies supporting ALEC may simply be unaware that the group is involved in voter suppression. Others might think that voter suppression will benefit their political interests, and hope that they can get away with supporting it because so few people have even heard of ALEC.

We’ve started reaching out to these companies to make sure they know what they’re supporting, and to demand that they stop. Adding your voice to this campaign will help us convince these companies that continuing to support ALEC will hurt their reputation with consumers. We hope that many of them will simply do the right thing and stop supporting ALEC. If they don’t, we’ll be prepared to shine a spotlight on them and make sure the world understands what they’re involved in.

This is a game changing effort that could have a significant impact on this year’s presidential election.

SEE ALSO:

First Black Woman Elected To Boston City Council Overcomes Life’s Obstacles


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