By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
The bar is set high: 10 million more Black voters.
That’s the goal as the Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC), the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Rainbow Push, the Hip Hop Caucus, and others set out on a bus tour across the nation to blunt voter suppression and misinformation ahead of the all-important midterm elections.
“The buses are rolling … Minneapolis is the first stop,” declared Barbara Arnwine, the president and founder of the TJC, an organization known for its contributions to critical justice issues.
“We believe voting is a celebration,” Arnwine continued during a lively news conference at the Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The conference included remarks by Attorney Daryl Jones, NNPA President, and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Rainbow Push Coalition Executive Director Bishop Tavis Grant, Black Voters Matter Co-Founder Cliff Albright, African American Policy Forum Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw, National Organization of Concerned Black Men CEO Dr. Karen McRae, Virginia K. Solomón of the League of Women Voters, and Hip Hop Caucus Executive Director Attorney Tanya Clay House.
“We want people to celebrate when they vote,” Arnwine insisted.
“We call it a celebration for every time we do a votercade. We have a Celebration Village.”
Arnwine said in one city, the mayor informed the coalition that voter turnout doubled after the votercade visited.
“We went to another area in the poorest zip code in Milwaukee – one of the poorest in the nation,” Arnwine continued.
“They had such a small polling site and didn’t expect anyone to turn out. But, when we finished, they had more people vote in that one day after the votercade than typically during the entire early voting season.”
Chavis, who has pushed the hashtag #10millionmoreblackvoters, reminded everyone that the midterms were just a few weeks ago.
With photos of the late Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis blanketing the Press Club for the news conference, Chavis called the coalition’s mission good trouble.
“We are going to all the major states, places where we know we can make a difference,” Chavis declared.
“This tour is designed to make sure we awaken a lot of the sleeping giants in our community.”
“We believe that we can get 10 million more Black voters. That’s a large number, but we believe that number could make a difference. Democracy is on the ballot on November 8. Racial justice is on the ballot on November 8. Climate justice is on the ballot, environmental justice is on the ballot, economic justice, and equity is on the ballot, and preventing far right-wing groups from banning votes is on the ballot.”
Arnwine added that the 25-city Arc of Voter Justice Tour is designed to ensure everyone understands that citizens’ right to vote is their voice.
During the votercade, participants will register to vote and check their voting eligibility while enjoying good food, music, games, and banned books as the coalition seek to transform voting and the voting experience.
“A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than it is to get an assault weapon,” Bishop Grant demanded.
“What is so dangerous about Black and Brown people who vote? What’s so dangerous about standing in line with a bottle of water or food or showing up early to vote?”
The Bishop said the danger is that “it shifts the power scale, and the have-nots have an opportunity to have their fair share.”
“A right is not something someone gives you. It’s something that someone cannot take away from you. That’s what this is about. It’s about restoring the right and the dignity of the voter. If your vote didn’t matter, suppression wouldn’t try to suffocate it. We need 10 million more voters.”