Black Southern Women's Collaborative Urges Voters to Remain Committed to the Continual Struggle for Democracy
August 4, 2022
ATLANTA - After a bruising year that saw attacks on reproductive freedom and equitable and fair drawing of district lines, many people are heading into the midterm elections questioning whether voting matters. But advocates with the Black Southern Women’s Collaborative today reminded voters that they cannot cede power to those who wish to deny and abridge the right to vote. The leaders, who played a leading role in redistricting fights in Florida, Louisiana and Georgia, also urged voters to not only commit to vote in the upcoming elections but begin developing a plan to vote. They released the following statement:
“The attacks on the right to vote are designed to depress voter engagement and voter turnout,” said Kendra Cotton, COO of the New Georgia Project. “But voters of color will not take the bait. We have been and will continue organizing to ensure that our voices are heard.”
“We will not allow Christian nationalism to subvert the will of the people,” said Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida. “We will also refuse to become so discouraged that we throw up our hands in resignation that we cannot make a difference: we can and we have.”
“Despite high profile voting rights and redistricting cases, advocates for democracy have made progress on issues that many of us hold dear,” said Ashley K. Shelton, president and CEO of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice. “For instance, in Louisiana, we expanded voting rights for the past two years even as the rest of the country went the other way. We also supported and won a ballot measure ending the racist practice of convicting people with non-unanimous juries.”
There have been other victories as well. This past redistricting cycle, many states reallocated incarcerated persons back to their original states; 12 states ended prison gerrymandering this cycle, including MD, CT, DE, NJ, VA.
Advocates also made progress in representation for Native communities, with Minnesota creating the first congressional district that centered Ojibwe tribal communities.
Additionally, leaders in North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio and Alabama all challenged inequitable and unfair maps in state court, and some will be heard by the Supreme Court.
“Barriers to democracy, suppressive as they are, do not alter our drive, our passion, and our call to action,” Shelton added. “They actually inspire us to work harder.”
“No one can argue that this year hasn’t seen its share of attacks on our democracy,” said Tameka Greer, executive director of Memphis Artists for Change. “But we need a practice of amplifying the wins and inspiring voters to never give up.”