|NAACP launches 1M voters campaign|
|Progressive allies vow to deliver at polls|
|Published Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:56 pm|
RALEIGH – The North Carolina NAACP is focusing on protecting voting rights with three initiatives centered on combating potential suppression efforts.
|Voters line up outside the Hickory Grove branch library to cast ballots on Tuesday. Early voting in North Carolina started last week.|
The Million Voters March is one such project. The campaign, announced at the NAACP’s convention earlier this month, is a drive to get a million African-Americans, Latinos and progressive whites to the polls during the early voting period.
The state NAACP also released “Abridging the Vote,” a report published by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. The report exposes the Tea Party’s agenda to deny African-Americans and Latinos the right to vote, and what civil rights advocates can do to counter those efforts.
And thirdly, state NAACP President Rev. William Barber announced a coalition that would embrace the type of fusion politics of the mid-1800s that elected more blacks in the General Assembly than today.
“Over the next two and three election cycles, if we get four organizers per electoral votes in North Carolina, that’s 60 people working for the next four years,” Barber said of the coalition pushing a progressive agenda.
“We can shift the South. And if the South shifts, the nation shifts,” he said. “And so we raise this cry: ‘If we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now,’” the theme of the annual conference.
This history of voting has been curious, contentious and contorted, he said. “When you know this history, then you understand why we stand firm against any attempt to suppress, stagnate or violate the fundamental principles of the 15th Amendment.”
In a sermon-type discourse, Barber presented the case for voting through a historic timeline that included African-Americans’ demands for the right to cast a ballot, to exclusion during the Jim Crow era and widespread participation at the polls in the 1960s that resulted in the election of black lawmakers like Henry Frye of Greensboro to the state House and Fredrick Douglass Alexander of Charlotte to the Senate.
“Ironically, Henry Frye became a state Supreme Court justice though he had been denied his right to vote in 1956 because he forgot the names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and couldn’t pass the literacy test,” Barber said. “When you understand this history, then you understand why those of us in the civil rights community will fight against any attempt, under any guise or any camouflage by any party to suppress, steal, distract, disturb, discourage, isolate or intimidate anybody’s right to vote.
“We know what it looks like. We know what it smells like. We know what it feels like. And the sons and daughters of the civil rights community make North Carolina and America one promise: When it comes to our rights, ordained by God and won by sacrifice, we will never, ever, ever, ever turn back.”
The candidates for N.C. governor were invited to the annual state conference of the NAACP for a debate.
Democrat Walter Dalton showed up and debated with an empty chair as Republican Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, rejected the invitation.
Dalton, a member of the NAACP, said: “We should respect everyone and stereotype no one. He (referring to the governor’s seat) will represent all the people of North Carolina.”
Dalton said he would veto voter photo identification laws if it passed again, just as Gov. Beverly Perdue did. “It’s a solution looking for a problem.”
Barber said all this state has ever needed is signature attestation when it comes to voting. “It’s all we’ve needed since 1776 and that’s all we need now. If you get caught lying, you get a five-year felony. It’s utterly racist for (people) to say it worked until 2008. But after 2008, something went wrong. They must have cheated.”
“Voting is at the heart of our democracy,” Barber said. “It’s not so much about Democratic or Republican, it’s about what do we believe America promised. What’s at the heart of who we are as Americans? It’s about whether or not we have a vision of justice … a multiracial anti-poverty agenda, or a narrow-minded regressive agenda.”
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