As the midterm elections draw closer, all eyes appear to be on Black women who are “realizing the power of their vote,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said recently.
Black women are one of the most powerful voting blocs in last year’s elections, having, for example, helped Democrat Doug Jones secure a Senate victory over disgraced Republican Roy Moore in Alabama. The victory for Jones — 49.9 to 48.4 percent upset according to The New York Times — is a significant indicator of African-American women’s power at the polls.
But is that power enough to drive another Freedom Summer?
The famous 1964 voter registration drive, also known as the Mississippi Summer Project, was a mobilized effort to encourage Black folks to exercise their right under the worst of conditions. The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sponsored the effort under the distress of KKK beatings, murders, arsons and much more evils. Today, any voter registration drive would still have to face the pressures of racism, including voter ID laws and other suppression efforts.
It’s tough to say whether another Freedom Summer is on the way. But there are major voter registration efforts getting underway now, such as the Women’s March ‘Hear Our Vote‘ campaign.
There are also strong voices, including Bottoms, that believe that Black women votes matter a lot. Voters will keep electing Democrats that “push the GOP from power,” Bottoms said to Politico.
“It’s taken what we [Black women] are dealing with on a national level, I think, to really get us energized and not taking anything for granted, but I do think we are recognizing and exercising our power in a way that we’ve never done before, and that’s exciting,” Bottoms explained. “We are becoming engaged, and we realize the danger of staying home.”
Bottoms, who is part of an incredible pack of Black women who won offices in cities including Charlotte and New Orleans, gives an assessment of Black women that has rung true for many in the Democratic party. Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chairman, had referred to African-American women as the “backbone” of the party back in December, The Hill reported.
It was Black women who also got Democrat Ralph Northam into the Virginia Governor’s office in January, The Washington Post reported. Northam bested Republican Ed Gillespie, who ran on what was termed “Trump-style nationalism.” Yes, the great dislike for Trump has driven Black women to the polls in spades. People have taken notice of Black women’s voting power, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is working with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
“I don’t think there’s any question that there has to be particular attention given to the people who constitute the core base of the democratic party; women, people of color, young people,” Holder, who may consider running for the 2020 presidential race, said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on February 7, according to C-SPAN.
Holder continued, “So yeah, there’s gonna be particular focus on women. We can’t become complacent. We’re not gonna get the results we want in November simply by riding the wave. We gotta work between now and then. And that means targeting groups of people who have indicated an interest. We’ve seen record numbers of women running to the polls, especially women of color. So that’s one of the places where we’re going to be putting particular emphasis.”
Yes, the Black voting magic is real.
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