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Bishop Grant: Black voter turnout key to midterm victories

Black vote

Which party will control the House and Senate may depend on the Black vote, a victory that could end the political stalemate the Republicans enjoy and perhaps the overturning of nearly 400 voter suppression bills passed by Republicans.

“In Arizona and in Texas there were armed groups showing up at voter sites,” said Bishop Tavis Grant, interim national executive director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

“There have been challenges in New York over addresses and challenges of 6,000 ballots that are being held up now because they could not make a space on the ballot to sign,” Grant said. “All these voter schemes are going on.”

Bishop Tavis Grant
Bishop Tavis Grant

That is why Grant and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition staff are inviting the public to attend the 10 a.m. Saturday, October 29, PUSH weekly broadcast where a discussion will be held about the importance of voting for judges, breaking down the facts vs. lies about the SAFE-T Act, and explaining about voter suppression schemes that just won’t go away.

This Saturday, October 29, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas will present a five-minute video on what her office does; Northeastern University Professor Emeritus Robert Starks will talk about Springfield legislation; Representative LaShawn Ford (D-8th) will talk about voting rights for those in prison; and a representative from SEIU will discuss the worker rights amendment that is on the November 8 ballot.

In an effort to educate voters, Grant said voter schemes, including voter suppression tactics, are nothing new in America’s bifurcated racial society and that Republicans are still thwarting Black voter turnout. Unlike in the past, however, they are using state laws to diminish Black voter turnout. But will it work come November 8?

Decades ago, before Blacks could cast a vote, they were asked to take educational tests, pay poll taxes or the law required them to prove their grandfather had voted. Voter suppression, Grant said, began after the Civil War as it relates to Reconstruction.

“It was an era in terms of great bloodshed and great loss where President Lincoln knew to save the Union, he had to free the slaves.”

Grant quoted Reverend Jesse Jackson, who said, “It was not that Lincoln freed the slaves. It was the slaves who freed Lincoln.”

“When we look at voter suppression today, all of the schemes, scams and attempts to take this most precious and most valuable Constitutional right, one could only fathom what it must have been like” to try and vote and be rejected.

“Imagine leaving the darkness of your home, trodding through mud, hills and valleys to a church or a courthouse to cast a vote and being turned away because you didn’t know how many bubbles were in soap or you didn’t know how many jellybeans were in a jar,” Grant stated.

“It is so important for us to know that when we vote, we will be carrying the legacy, the history, the tears, the blood and the sweat of those who died. Every time we vote, we bring them back alive, and we make it proof positive that their living was not in vain,” Grant stated.

But during the Reconstruction era when Blacks partnered with poor white North Carolina voters to elect a coalition of Black Republicans and white populists, several African Americans were elected to office.

While white Democrats agreed this new coalition was won fair and square, about 2,000 of them issued a “White Declaration of Independence” and they refused to be ruled by Black men. Scores of Black men died in the Wilmington coup, according to Grant.

In 2022, the Republicans are still using their old political playbook of keeping Blacks from the polls through gerrymandering and passing hundreds of voter suppression bills.

According to CNN, as of March 24, 2022, lawmakers in 47 states have introduced more than 360 voter suppression bills that restrict voter access. Georgia legislators went so far as to criminalize anyone giving food or water to voters standing in line to vote.

Reflecting on the days of voter terrorism directed against Black voters, Reverend Jackson said he will be reaching out to students 18 and over.

“We’re going to take our country back. We will maintain a drive for human rights and social justice.” He urged people to Early Vote and predicted a “massive turnout’ on November 8.

For the 2022 midterm elections, all eyes will be on the Georgia Senate race between Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican and Trump-backed U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker who continues to deny he paid for a woman’s abortion.

There are other battleground states that could result in Democratic control of both houses if the Black vote turns out.

Those states are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania with U.S. Senate, House and governors’ high-profile races.

Kansas too has targeted House and governor’s races. New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin each have targeted senate and governors’ races.

In North Carolina, there will be a high-profile open seat election for senate and governor’s races.

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