What We Need To Know:
The messages of civic engagement and political action are getting across to Black people of all ages during this election season. Black women are flexing their muscles as candidates from the top of the ballot on down. Black men are active as candidates as well as objects of attention by political parties. Black students are especially active in working at the polls.
Over 100 women of color are running for seats in the U.S. Congress. Among the African American women running are Democrat Cori Bush of Missouri and Republican Tamika Hamilton of California. In this year’s primary, community activist Bush upset longtime St. Louis Congressman, William Lacy Clay. If Mrs. Hamilton is elected, the Air Force Veteran will be the second and lone Black Female Republican in the U.S. House
African American men are of course, running for office. They’re also hitting the streets to encourage Black folks to vote. According to the Pew Research Center, the Black voter turnout rate declined in 2016, falling to 59.6% after reaching a record-high 66.6% in 2012. Civically engaged Black men like Demetrius Short of Nashville, TN, are working to change the numbers. Mr. Short and his team are using physical fitness to inspire political change by leading young Black men on runs and talking about becoming better people afterwards.
Both major parties are working to improve their support by African American men. In 2016, among black men, Donald Trump won 13 percent. In 2020, in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests, many young Black voters don’t seem to feel as negatively about Trump as older Black Americans do.
According to political site 538.com, an early-July African American Research Collaborative poll of battleground states found that 35 percent of 18-to-29-year-old Black adults agreed that although they didn’t always like Trump’s policies, they liked his strong demeanor and defiance of the establishment.
The current news reports about conversations between Black celebrities and the Trump campaign, along with possible endorsements, are not happenstance.
As health concerns increased about losing older veteran election workers during the coronavirus pandemic, high school and college students as young as 16 have answered the call. This is especially important as concerns about the safety of mail-in ballots have escalated, leading to more in-person early voting. And, as the voting machines are changing, tech savvy young poll workers are important additions to keep voting machinery running. Organizations like Power the Polls have joined forces with the Campus Vote Project and More than a Vote in a number of initiatives that have increased the number of younger poll workers by tens of thousands. According to various news reports, more than 500,000 people have signed up to become first time poll workers through Power the Polls. Over half of them are under the age of 40. Cities like Philadelphia are reporting they have more people applying than they have poll positions. That’s a good problem to have.
Why We Need To Know:
The outcomes of 2020 elections may not be validated for days or even weeks after November 3. Among the numbers that are sure come out of this election year will be the Black Power at the polls-among people working the polls and those on the ballots.