10/26/2016 2:34:22 PM
–Color Of Change PAC—the PAC arm of the nation’s largest online racial justice group—is launching #VotingWhileBlack, a first-of-its-kind program that uses cutting edge digital communications tools to engage Black voters in a massive modern-day volunteer effort aimed at getting out the vote in races up and down the ballot in swing states and holding politicians accountable to Black communities after Election Day.
Created and run by Black leadership, #VotingWhileBlack focuses on the issues affecting Black communities that are central to this country’s success—from police violence and an unfair criminal justice system to a changing economy and the lack of investment in our schools and communities—in a way that other groups linked with specific political parties or candidates cannot be. While there are other campaigns focused on bringing Black voters out to the polls, #VotingWhileBlack puts voter persuasion at the center, getting out the vote for specific candidates whose positions matter for Black communities—and collectively impacting races from the presidential race to down ballot races like those for Senate and district attorneys, where the winners will have the power to make important decisions that will significantly impact Black communities.
“This is a truly unprecedented program that’s laser-focused on mobilizing Black voters around the issues that matter most to our community,” said Color Of Change PAC spokesperson, Rashad Robinson. “Down ballot races, like those for district attorneys, often don’t get much attention. But, we know all too well how much the perspective and practices of these local prosecutors impact Black communities. Rather than shoving these races to the sidelines, #VotingWhileBlack puts them front and center in our voter outreach—and we’re doing so by engaging our communities not on the basis of political parties, but based on building independent political power that will be around after the election to hold those we support accountable. We’re translating the presence and visibility of our issues into the power to change the rules.”
#VotingWhileBlack engages voters and communities with text-a-thons, online voter guides, social media activations, digital chase ads, and email engagement, and provides a full suite of digital tools and graphic content to help Black voters and allies reach out to other Black voters. Using cell phones to directly communicate with Black voters, #VotingWhileBlack is driving engagement in down ballot races that are often neglected by other voter outreach programs, including district attorney races in Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus); Orange County, Florida (Orlando); Hillsborough County, Florida (Tampa); and Harris County, Texas (Houston). The program is also targeting key Senate races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, where wins could prevent the Senate from coming under the control of far-right politicians.
“A key part of our program is holding politicians accountable after Election Day,” said Arisha Hatch, Director of Color Of Change PAC. “For far too long, elected officials have pursued Black folks’ votes, but then failed to champion our issues once they’re in power. We’re mobilizing Black communities to vote strategically, shape political agendas, move the needle on key issues, and ultimately hold elected officials accountable for the promises they make at election time.”
Already, #VotingWhileBlack has held text-a-thons—virtual or in-person gatherings where highly motivated Black voters come together in a lively atmosphere to text other Black voters about key races—in major cities including New York, Washington, Miami, Oakland, Houston, and Philadelphia, with plans to hold more in states including Illinois, California, and New Jersey. The goal of these text-a-thons is to ensure that 2 million contacted voters go to the polls and that they’re equipped with all the information they need—including local down ballot voter guides and turnout reminders—to make informed choices in races across the ballot. So far, over 1,000 volunteers have sent over 800,000 initial texts to eligible Black voters.
Color Of Change PAC is engaging partners including: John Legend, who’s hosting virtual text-a-thons; and National Nurses United, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., which hosted or participated in in-person and virtual text-a-thons with their members.
The #VotingWhileBlack campaign follows Color Of Change PAC’s high-profile campaign pressuring corporations to divest from the RNC in protest of Donald Trump’s bigotry, which resulted in companies like Coca-Cola, Apple and HP withdrawing or reducing their financial support of the convention, and cost the Republican Party millions of dollars.
For more on #VotingWhileBlack, visit http://votingwhileblack.com.