The National Urban League “Reclaim Your Vote State of Emergency Road Tour”

The National Urban League Join Hands with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta for a Two- Day State of Emergency: “Reclaim Your Vote State of Emergency Road Tour”

By Desiree Sandlin

A National Urban League Civic Engagement and Voting Rights Campaign

On Friday, October 21, 2022, the National Urban League President, and CEO Marc H. Morial and Urban League of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Nancy Flake Johnson, along with other civil rights leaders, advocates and activists rallied across Atlanta as part of The National Urban League's voter education and civic engagement initiative, “Reclaim Your Vote State of Emergency Road Tour.” The day begin with the tour and luncheon beginning at Studio House Atlanta, located at 75 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. NE. The day continued with civic rights leaders and advocates meeting up with students and alumni for the Morehouse-Spelman Homecoming Market Friday Engagement, which took place on Spelman’s campus. Community members gathered together as an initiative focusing on black men for “shop talk” themed, “Reclaim Your Vote Shop Talk,” at an ideal location none other than University Barber Shop, 3 James P. Brawley Dr. SW at 4:30 p.m., followed by “The Reclaim Your Vote Civic Engagement Canvass,” which took place at 6:30 that evening along the 1500 block of Pineview Terrace SW. Local clergy gathered together for the “ Reclaim Your Vote Faith Leaders Gathering” to discuss the importance and need for the reclamation of voting rights at the Studio House Atlanta at 7 p.m.

The tour was generated to incite initiative and the sense of urgency to raise awareness and educate voters about the 2022 Mid-term election which takes place on November 8, 2022. This year’s election is monumental as Stacy Abrams (D), former candidate for governor of Georgia, rallies against, governor, Brian Kemp, (R). Kemp and Abrams faced each other in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, with Kemp defeating Abrams 50-49%. Georgia has had a republican governor since 2003. President Biden won the state by less than one percent in the 2020 election for president. The paper-thin defeat sparked suspicion by many Democrats that the election was rigged and defrauded Abrams of her rightful place as Governor. What many see as illegal and a civic rights violation, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law voting restrictions sponsored by Republicans. The voting restrictions include but are not limited to making it illegal for election officials to mail absentee ballot applications to voters. Previously, a voter could request an absentee ballot as early as six months prior to election and up until the Friday before an election. The new law has cut the time to 67 days. One of the biggest impacts that the new voter restriction law mandates is the drop boxes. The law limits each county to one drop box per 100,000 active registered voters, or one for each early voting location; whichever is smaller.  This affects the usual 330 drop boxes across the state that have normally been in place. The total drop in drop boxes will have a vast impact Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinnett. These four counties make up more than a third of Atlanta’s Black population.

Do You See The Importance Of Your Vote?

The National Urban League (NUL), historically known as an advocate of civil rights and urban advocacy, is an organization with more than ninety affiliates serving three hundred communities, thirty-six states, including the District of Columbia. Founded in 1910, the NUL, provides and advocates education, employment, social justice, housing, health, justice, and racial discrimination for African Americans in the United States. Understanding the gravity of the 2022 election, the NUL joined with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and Columbus Georgia, in a two-day blitz state of emergency as a reclamation of voter’s right and a rescue effort of saving the state of Georgia. In a one-on-one interview, with ATL plus Magazine correspondent, Lori Hanford, the President, and CEO, of the National Urban League, Mr. Marc H. Morial, stated that this year’s election was the “underscore how the people here in Atlanta understand the importance of getting out to vote; the chance to make history and make a difference.” He added that Atlanta and Georgia was “center stage” for the 21st century America. He added that because “we (being African Americans) got out and voted, student debt is now a reality.” He went on to add that the NUL was present; “we’re here encouraging people not only to vote; but to activate their family networks, church networks, personal networks, work networks…. we all have to be in this fight to turn the vote out on election day.” In addition, Morial added that “it’s not a big lift to get out and vote. It doesn’t take a lot of time and doesn’t cost you any money to get out and vote. It’s a civic duty and responsibility.” Morial and Johnson also acknowledged the attendance of Montgomery, Alabama, first Black Mayor, Mr. Steven Reed. The exigency of reclaiming your vote was further emphasized through the historical election of Steven Reed, an African American in a predominantly Black state that is now just getting its first Black Mayor. His position in office as the first Black Mayor of Montgomery is what Black voting looks like. Also, in attendance at the “Reclaim Your Vote” tour was Ms. Beverly Evans Smith, the 26th President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Ms. Evans Smith shared how the power of our voice shapes legislations that will affect generations to come. She issued a challenge for both young and old alike to get out and vote. Her stance was firm in that “everyone needed to find a cause that they are passionate about and to use that passion to get to the polls.” When asked what can be done to get the Millennials and Gen Z populations out to cast their vote, Ms. Evans Smith responded, “making voting relevant is what we have to do to motivate our younger generations and knowing what motivates them can be the difference on getting them out to the polls.”

The National Urban League has launched a political campaign to stress the importance of the African American vote for this year’s 2022 Mid-term elections. “It is because of your votes that justice for the family of George Floyd and others was served. It was because you voted-a Black woman is in the Supreme Court. It is because of your vote there’s student loan relief, covid vaccines in your community. Take your voice! Your vote led to real change.” These are the words spoken by Mr. Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League during a YouTube video. Morial vehemently expressed that our voting has led to a return on our investment that has resulted in positive outcomes. He urges the community that by getting out and voting that they will be able to reclaim their power. Get out and Vote!

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