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Super PAC aims for N.C. votes, volunteers
1911 Unity tour rolls into Greensboro
 
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2012 2:00 pm
by Herbert L. White

Black voters who helped deliver North Carolina to Barack Obama in 2008 are getting extra attention in 2012.

PHOTO/1911 UNITED
The super PAC 1911 United is leading a bus tour to four N.C. cities, starting June 7 in Greensboro. The PAC, founded by members of Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternities, is focusing on electoral battleground states President Barack Obama carried in 2008. The goal is to energize black voters to support Obama at the polls and as campaign volunteers in 2012.

A political action committee, 1911 United, is launching a bus tour to drum up support for Obama with June 7 stops in Greensboro, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Raleigh. The super PAC, founded by members of Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternities, – both founded in 1911 – is targeting African Americans in swing states Obama carried in 2008. Instead of raising millions for media buys, 1911 United is channeling resources to political activism in black communities.

 “Unlike some of these other folks who are really wasting millions of dollars on television commercials,” 1911 United treasurer Sinclair Skinner said,  “we’re focusing like a laser beam on a particular demographic using grassroots methodology that allows us to connect with people and sustain the connection.”

The super PAC, which is also focusing on Florida, Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado, made its first N.C. appearance in March at the CIAA basketball tournament and the Charlotte Greek Picnic in April.

1911 United’s goal is to re-energize African Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 but sat out the 2010 midterm elections, in which Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives as well several state legislatures. Another goal is to organize 10,000 volunteers to bring 1 million voters into the Obama column on Nov. 6.

“Our focus has been on the states that are up for grabs for the black population and its turnout is key to the outcome in those states,” Skinner said.

To sustain a grassroots campaign, 1911 United is raising $1.1 million to go into toss-up states like North Carolina, which Obama carried by a little more than 14,000 votes four years ago. The voters are there, Skinner said. It’s a matter of engaging them to return to the polls.

“We need that level of excitement and turnout again,” he said. “The good news is we know we can do it. Prior to 2008, we had to find people, try to register them. This time, we know we’ve got enough people to do it because we’ve done it. We know who they are – they voted and registered, so we know we’ve got a basis of folk that have done it before and we need them to come back out.”

Especially in North Carolina, which is hosting the Democratic National Convention in September and is a prime target of Obama’s re-election campaign. African Americans, who make up about a quarter of the state’s voters, will be pivotal to whether Obama earns another term.

“There are many black people that vote, but there are many black people think elections are an event,” Skinner said. “They’re not an event, they’re a process. We can’t wait until Nov. 6 to get involved. We’ve got to get involved early and often.”

 

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