As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, it’s a good time to reflect on the historical impact of young people who were willing to risk their lives to register Black people to vote in Mississippi.
As a result of their courage and their sacrifice many people, today not only in Mississippi but across the country, can now register and vote in any election.
This has caused me to think about two things: one, how Black people across the country registered and voted in historic numbers in 2008 and 2012; and two, how few Black people voted in the primary election this year in Dallas County. After reflecting on these two things, I came to the realization that it’s time for us to go back to the basics.
We wrote the book on how to organize and mobilize large numbers of people to go out and vote. However, over the last few years we have not applied these strategies and tactics consistently in every election. We have begun to rely on less conventional methods to get people to the polls. Instead of talking to our neighbors, we send out group text messages.
We have to go back and start knocking on doors of our neighbors and holding house meetings where we talk about the issues that affect us in our community. We have to create common bonds amongst people that live in our neighborhood so we feel comfortable inviting others into our homes. We must also pick up the telephone and talk to our friends about who the candidates are who are running for office and what they have done that qualifies them to serve in public office.
Often times we are depending on social media to get people out to the polls. We may send out a Facebook message or post something on Twitter or Instagram and think that will be enough to get people to go and vote. While using technology is helpful and a group text message serves a purpose when it comes to reminding our friends to go out and vote, it should not be the only means to get out this information.
This election is too important for anybody we love or care about to stay home. The future of our county and the future of our state is at stake in this election. Through Freedom Sunday, we need all hands on deck. Freedom Sunday is Sunday, October 26, 2014. Whether you are an active member of your church, community organization, or your neighborhood block captain, we need you to take this information back to your group and so we can ensure a large turnout for November. Can we count on you? We will find out in November!