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Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA) delivers this week’s CBC Message to America focusing on the importance of using civic engagement to resolve troubling issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

Rep. Bishop explained despite the progress we have made over the years, there is “still too much poverty, too much hunger, too much homelessness, too much sickness, too much illiteracy, and too much hopelessness in America.”

“We are challenged by the urgency of now,” Bishop said, questioning how we can save our communities, our nation, our world, and how the positive change will be made. According to Rep. Bishop, “civic engagement” and getting involved is the answer.

Through civic engagement, Congressman Bishop believes we will be able to “wake up” leaders in our community and get them involved in the challenges we’re facing and “the urgency of meeting these challenges.”

The Congressman from Georgia’s 2nd congressional district and graduate of Morehouse College reminded viewers the true nature of politics is “nothing more, nothing less than who gets what, when, and how.” 

Rep. Bishop expounded on the definition of politics that he learned while at Morehouse, saying, “Who gets the opportunity for jobs, for wealth, for health care, for education, for nutrition, for home ownership, for disability payments. When do they get it, how do they get it?”

“It is elected officials who make those decisions,” Bishop said. He continued, “It is voters who choose those elected officials, it is only the registered voters who show up to vote who can make a difference.”

Unfortunately, there are millions of unregistered African-American voters and in Bishop’s home-state of Georgia, “over a quarter of all eligible Black voters are unregistered.” Rep. Bishop added, “If all registered African-Americans voters had shown up to vote in the last election, we would likely have had different governors, different U.S. Senators, different representatives, and state officials and probably different decisions on many laws that now impact African-American communities across the state.”

Having made that important statement about the impact of Black voters being absent at the polls, Congressman Bishop said, “We must energize our communities, we must lift up the direct connection between our participation in the political process and the decisions of our elected officials.”

“We must make it clear that every election matters,” Rep. Bishop said. “It matters who is on the school board, it matters who is on the city and county commissions, it matters who the sheriff is, who serves as Congressman, U.S. Senator, who sits on the Supreme Court, who is the President of the United States.”

Bishop continued, “These are the folks who decide who gets what, when, and how.”

“Therefore, we must vote like never before, we must hold our decision makers accountable — only then can we create an environment in our nation where we will have more jobs and a stronger economy, education, and skills for every job-seeking citizen to have a good paying job, safe communities, free from crime, access to adequate nutrition, and access to health care.”

Congressman Bishop implored viewers to “wake up,” quoting Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ iconic song, “Wake Up Everybody.”

Wake up everybody

no more sleeping in bed

No more backward thinking,

time for thinking ahead

The world has changed

So very much

From what it used to be

There is so much hatred

War and Poverty

Wake up all the teachers

Time to teach a new way

Maybe then they’ll listen

To what you have to say

‘Cause they’re the ones who’s coming up

When the world is in their hands

When you teach the children

Teach them the very best you can

The world won’t get no better

If we just let it be

The world won’t get no better

We gotta change it, yeah

Just you and me

Watch Congressman Sanford Bishop’s address in the video clip above.

For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus, visit


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