Black Votes Matter

By: Mia Hope

There is a ghost that haunts the US. It is scary, carries around chains to keep you locked away, and somehow follows the US wherever it goes. The ghost is voter suppression. 

In 1890 a little over one hundred men congregated at the Mississippi state capital to speak on how important it was to keep Black men from voting in Mississippi. They felt it so important to hold a mass meeting and several discussions on how to keep black men from having the right to vote, because that would mean that the black men could fundamentally change the face of government and reverse the racist legislation they worked so diligently to ensure.

The ghost of voter legislation has returned once again to haunt the US. This time making an appearance in the 2020 presidential election. President Donald Trump made big news when he stated that he opposed giving additional funds to the U.S. Postal Service. The postal service would have used that funding to provide better resources to allow for people to mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Trump stated concerns over how there could be fraud occurring. This takes me back to the time of Reconstruction when women still could not vote ad balck men had little power in the U.S. Senate. Yet the fight continued so that they could vote, both men and women alike. That fight was long, hard and even deadly. In this 2020 election we saw just how powerful the minority and person of color vote was.

The minority vote is what kept Democrats afloat and contributing to their win. In an AP article, it states that “Black voters made up 11% of the national electorate, and 9 in 10 of them supported Biden, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide. Both figures are about on par with 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton also overwhelmingly won Black voters’ support but fell short of winning the White House, according to Pew Research Center estimates. But when compared to Clinton, Biden drew more voters in critical areas with large Black populations.”

We saw a tremendous turnout of black voters for Obama in 2008 and in 2012. The black voter turnout, unfortunately, dropped in major cities in 2016 which made black voters feel responsible and a part to blame for Trump’s winning office. When Biden stated he would run for president it seemed to revive the black voters.

The black voters and the turnout from states such as Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama helped to win the nomination and thus leading to other states following suit in helping him to win the election. “This literally is what our ancestors have fought and died for — the freedom, liberation, and survival that they knew they would never live to see, but they knew that it was so important for generations to come,” said Alicia Johnson, a political strategist, and Biden adviser.

There were also several avenues that helped black voters get out there and be heard in this election. Black Voters Matter focused on several states with sending mass busses on trips across the nation to get people registered and ready to vote. Georgia is in the news now for becoming a blue state. The road trip campaign reached more than 500,000 voters. 

Black voter registrations increased by 40% in both Fulton and Gwinnett counties, according to the Georgia secretary of state. The increase in the growing counties outpaced the 6% increase in the Black population over the same time period.”

Yet I can’t properly finish this article without giving proper credit to Stacey Abrams and the effort that she put in to make sure that the black vote was counted. The encouragement to mail-in and sign up for early voting options helped Biden’s campaign.

The Fair Fight group which Stacey started after experiencing voter suppression and tampering when she ran for governor created a critical moment and result for the presidential election. “It’s one of those few moments where we have this power to shape the future for ourselves, to insist upon at least attention to our plight,” she said. “And to demand behavior that meets this notion that we have as a nation that there should be justice for all.”

The ghost that has haunted the US has somewhat been brought to light. We are seeing the direct impact the black vote has. How important it is should not be forgotten and hopefully, future candidates can treat it with the respect and attention it deserves.