Black women have done it before and are being asked to do it again in the state of Georgia.
The ask? To help deliver votes ensuring progressive leaders win in a highly contentious Senate runoff race. On Jan. 5, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, will face off, as will GOP Sen. David Perdue and his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff.
The highly watched race will determine the future of the Senate and Joe Biden administration’s ability to deliver on its vow to restore the “soul of the nation,” one of the president-elect’s rallying calls during his campaign run.
“The senate race in Georgia is the difference between Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes in the senate or Mitch McConnell continuing to hold the country hostage,” Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, told NewsOne during a phone conversation Monday.
For Black Americans, that would mean a concerted effort to reform a multitude of systems that have disproportionately hindered their advancements economically, in education as well as in health, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Two weeks ago, white mainstream media finally began to recognize the work and achievements of Black women organizers in Georgia like Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, Nse Ufot, leader of The New Georgia Project and LaTosha Brown, founder of Black Voters Matter. The brainpower and organized efforts among them as well as scores of unnamed on-the-ground workers helped register thousands of Black voters, contributing to a total of 1.2 million Black voters casting ballots in the Nov. 3 election. According to exit polls, 92 percent of Black women in Georgia voted for Biden.
Due to COVID-19, organizers will again rely on unconventional mobilizing efforts to build on the momentum of the last election cycle, organizing text banks, virtual events and even going door-to-door in the pandemic.
“Amazing Black women organizers are risking their lives to save our communities in a global pandemic that has killed one in one thousand Black people in America. From the pandemic or politics, Black women have consistently been on the right side and the rest of us need to follow,” Mitchell added.
Glynda Carr, the president of Higher Heights for America, the only national organization dedicated to harnessing Black women’s political power, said she had no reason to doubt history would not repeat itself.
“The creativity of Black women organizers was on full display this cycle and created a lot of innovative ways to do contactless voter mobilization as well as being able to gather voters virtually and I certainly anticipate that that innovation will continue to grow and stretch,” Carr told NewsOne. “They’re not only inspired by the moments of electing Warnock and Ossoff but they also have been inspired by the leadership of these activists.
But, Black women can’t continue to function as the sail on a weathered ship. As the most reliable voting bloc, Black women invested in this election with the promise that their votes would finally warrant a return and produce action towards legislation eradicating blocked accessways to wellness without the threat of patriarchy and misogynoir, bridled under the umbrella of white supremacy.
“Democracy is a participatory activity and should not fall on one particular constituency to overperform,” Carr continued. “And I certainly believe that Black women will not only prepare to be an informed voter going into the January 5 runoff, they will also organize their networks. But I also think we’re going to be calling on our neighbors to participate in this runoff and you’re going to hear Black women going ‘Hey neighbor!'”
But Carr cautioned this work cannot be done alone.
“I certainly think that here’s another opportunity coming out of the general election where there’s obviously discussions around the participation of white women, the participation of Latinx and the participation of Black men,” Carr said. “This is definitely sparking a conversation around shared values and how we can show up for one another. I’ve seen those conversations happening and I certainly think in Georgia people will continue to create virtual spaces for those to continue as they go to not only elect the one but two senators, which is unique in itself.”