It may not be a presidential election year, but getting to the polls in November is crucial.
That’s the message the NAACP and a coalition of civil rights, religious, labor and community leaders are stressing as they prepare for Saturday’s 10-2-10 One Nation Working Together march for jobs, justice and education.
Hundreds of thousands of people – some on one of nearly 2,500 buses from more than 26 states, as well as students from more than 100 colleges and universities – will descend on Washington, D.C. to rally at the Lincoln Memorial to demonstrate a recommitment to change.
The One Nation coalition will feature human and civil rights leaders, labor leaders, environmental and peace activists, faith leaders, celebrities and sports figures to help reorder national priorities to invest first in the American people.
“We need to talk about the fact that our folks don’t have jobs, and our children are not getting a good education,” said Stefanie Brown, national field director/youth college division director of the NAACP.
“First of all, our message is to the American people that we do have collective power and a responsibility to make the changes we want to see,” Brown told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“When anyone is looking and thinking about what’s going on right now, they tend to be supportive” of the mission to empower people, said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau and senior vice president for advocacy and policy.
Shelton said the mission is to educate congregants about issues of employment, education and criminal justice and to get people to understand how crucial the November midterm elections are to black Americans.
While there have been 4 million children added to the health care system, an extension of hate crime legislation, which means it is easier to get federal assistance to the local level to investigate such allegations, and a host of other progressive initiatives enacted into law on his watch, President Obama is being criticized by those who say he has not done enough.
The fear, organizers say, is that voters, particularly black voters, will stay home and allow Republicans, who have vowed to repeal all these advances, to take over both houses of Congress.
Further, state and local races for school boards, mayors, state attornies general, governors and other elected offices that affect the quality of life for millions of African-Americans are also up for grabs.
In California, for example, progressive candidate Kamala Harris – the first African-American female district attorney in the state – is running for state attorney general. If elected, she’ll be the first black to win statewide office there in 32 years.
The march is emphasizing voter registration and using Oct. 2 – the last day in many states where someone can register to vote before the Nov. 2 elections – as its focus.
“We need to be vigilant, become educated about what’s at stake,” Shelton told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “What if someone who doesn’t support what we’ve fought for over the last two years comes into office and rolls back our efforts?”
“It does matter. Even though the president is not on the ballot, this is really a referendum on his policies. We believe these policies are our policies,” Shelton said. “It just so happens that we have a president who supports it.”
People interested in finding a ride to the march can click here to go to the One Nation website for details. They also may text BUS to 62227 for bus information. Texting ONE to the same number provides the latest news and updates from the campaign.