Historic alliance will fight voter suppression with massive voter registration and education in churches across the country
(Baltimore, MD) – The NAACP today announced an historic partnership with the major African American Baptist Conventions to promote voter registration through the NAACP’s This Is My Vote! campaign. NAACP board members joined Baptist leaders at a press conference at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
“We are here today in the spirit of unity and common purpose to say that we will not allow our votes to be stolen,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “The NAACP and the black church have been partners in the struggle for justice, equality and fairness for more than 100 years. We will work together to defend the right to vote and at the same time empower our communities to vote in all of the 2012 elections.”
In the last year, more than 30 states introduced voter suppression laws that disproportionately impact African American voters. This partnership will combat these attacks and ensure high voter participation through coordinated registration, education, and Get Out the Vote efforts that will reach millions.
“From voter registration to voter education to voter protection, this powerful alliance will allow the African American Baptist Conventions to engage our congregations in the electoral process,” stated Dr. Julius Scruggs, National Baptist Convention President and member of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “With attacks on voting rights emerging in state after state, we must stand together to ensure that our voices are heard.”
Churches will receive voter registration training through the NAACP and conduct voter registration drives until the cutoff dates. Additionally, the NAACP will distribute alerts on changes in local voter laws; educate congregants on legislative matters that affect their communities; and ensure church-goers turn out to the polls and are protected on Election Day.
The gathered Baptist leaders included Dr. Julius Scruggs, National Baptist Convention President; Dr. Carroll Baltimore, president, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Dr. Gregory K. Moss, Sr., president, Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention; and Dr. Stephen Thurston, president, National Baptist Convention of America. Dr. Nehemiah Davis, president, National Missionary Baptist Convention was not able to attend but his group has also committed to support the civic engagement efforts.
The NAACP leaders included Dr. Amos Brown, Immediate Past Chair of the Religious Affairs Committee on the NAACP National Board of Directors and Social Justice Chair of the National Baptist Convention; as well as Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, member of the Religious Affairs Committee.
“The NAACP has been dedicated to fighting voter suppression, and their steady work has borne fruit in states like Florida and Texas,” stated Thurston. “We are excited to partner with them to make it easier for church-goers around the country to participate on Election Day. Where there is unity, there is also strength.”
“As we take on this righteous cause, we should be encouraged by our historical successes,” stated Baltimore. “The NAACP and the black Baptist church have a long tradition of encouraging strong voter turnout, and we will continue that this year.”
“The Baptist tradition is dedicated to promoting social justice in all our communities,” stated Moss. “There is no greater embodiment of this responsibility than the battle for full participation in the democratic process. No matter what the laws are, our congregations must vote anyhow.”
“Many in this country would have us go backwards rather than forwards,” stated Barber, who is also chair of the Political Action and Legislative Committee on the NAACP National Board of Directors. “Besides the attack on voting rights, we have seen widening economic injustice and poverty, challenges to health care, and attacks on public education along with continuing disparities in the criminal justice system. That is why we are announcing a national day of voter registration and action on September 16th.”
“For over one hundred years the NAACP and the church have partnered to combat threats to our civil rights,” said Brown. “This year we intend to redouble those efforts and ensure all Americans have the right to vote.”
“This crucial partnership will make it easier for thousands of church-goers to participate on Election Day,” stated Rev. Nelson Rivers III, Vice President of Stakeholder Relations with the NAACP. “Our ability to fight injustice rests in our souls and is manifested in our actions. This year, the most important action we can take in the fight for justice is to exercise our right to vote.”
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