A civil rights and social justice organization spearheading a national voter campaign launched a major effort in Florida that could have a far-reaching effect.
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), in partnership with its affiliates, kicked off the Florida phase of the Unity ’18 Black Voting and Power Building National Non-Partisan Campaign (Unity ’18) on June 14 in Orlando.
This campaign comes as Floridians battle over whether to restore voting to former felons (a disproportionate number of whom are Black), a decision that could impact the outcome of key state races and which party will control Congress.
Unity ’18 is a non-partisan national campaign focused on leveraging the power and impact of the Black vote, with an emphasis on southern states, Black women and young voters. It represents the first phase of a four-year campaign, which includes the 2018 midterm elections, 2020 presidential election and the upcoming 2020 census.
“The Florida primary elections are on August 28 and we want to ensure that there is a mobilization of the broadest coalition of voters possible in order that the issues critical to us are addressed,” said Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of NCBCP.
A question on the November ballot will ask Florida voters whether they want to amend the state’s constitution to restore the voting rights of 1.5 million felons who completed their prison sentences. If it passes, the amendment would enfranchise scores of African-American voters who have the potential of swinging elections in favor of Democrats. Florida has 27 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S Senate seat up for grabs.
There’s also a viable Black candidate running for governor of Florida. Andrew Gillum, who was elected the first Black mayor of Tallahassee in 2014, polled third place in February among Democrats. The Florida’s governor race, however, appears wide open, as Democratic voters statewide are just now learning about Gillum’s progressive agenda, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Empowering Black women to vote is central to BCBCP’s strategy. Indeed, Black women have been the backbone of the Democratic Party, helping to sweep candidates into office in crucial races in Virginia and Alabama.
“We also believe that Black women voters are not only the secret sauce and most reliable vote for progressive candidates to win, we are leaders of many of our civil rights, women’s rights, social justice and human rights organizations,” Campbell added.