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Black Southern Women’s Collaborative Celebrates National Voter Registration Day

For Immediate Release

Sept. 20, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative today celebrated National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a civic holiday meant to encourage voters to register to vote. The collective, which organizes across the South to improve the material conditions of Black people, pledged to register thousands of voters on NVRD and beyond. They also vowed to address long-standing barriers to the ballot such as felony disenfranchisement, voter purges, and intimidation at the polls. The group released the following statement:

“This National Voter Registration Day comes at a time of increased strife in Florida. Numerous formerly incarcerated persons who regained the right to vote have been viciously targeted for attempting to do just that,” said the Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida. “This year, our organizing and efforts will go to ensuring that all people who are eligible to vote – including returning citizens – are able to do so, free of intimidation and fear.”

Since NVRD’s inception in 2012, nearly 4.7 million people have registered to vote. That is critical, because communities of color tend to be more transient, increasing the need to update their voter registration, confirm polling place locations, etc., prior to Election Day.

“With so much power on the line this year, we’ve committed to taking a full week to get as many people in our state #VoteReady as possible,” said Ashley K. Shelton, founder and president of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice. The group is one of several from the South who will head to Washington, D.C. for an Oct. 4th Supreme Court hearing re Alabama’s redistricting lines.

The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative is a network of Black women organizers and executive directors committed to pooling resources and organizing insights to impact change in the South. The cohort includes Kendra Cotton, chief operating officer of the New Georgia Project; Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida; Ashley Shelton, founder and president of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice; and Tameka Greer, executive director of the Memphis Artists for Change.

“Imagine receiving pamphlet after pamphlet encouraging you to turn out and vote only to show up and be denied the opportunity to do so. You haven’t moved. Your rights haven’t been revoked. Nothing about your voting,” said Tameka Greer, executive director of the Memphis Artists for Change. “Your eligibility has changed. And yet, you’re denied the right to vote outright or offered a provisional ballot because you’ve been erroneously purged from the rolls. That is the plight of far too many voters in Tennessee. And this National Voter Registration Day, our goal is to engage as many voters as possible and help them if they’ve been purged.”

They outlined the following goals and events:

  • Faith in Florida will host a series of events and will register 500 people to vote. They are also working with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to support formerly incarcerated persons whose rights have been restored but who are facing intimidation by the Ron DeSantis administration when they have attempted to register to vote.
  • The New Georgia Project has pledged to register 5,000 people to vote before Monday, Sept. 26. They have partnered with 100 small businesses and schools for the effort.
  • Power Coalition for Equity and Justice is hosting events across Louisiana, are working with high schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to get them registered to vote. The Power Coalition is also working with clergy in Monroe on a Turn Out Sunday Service on the Sunday before the Nov. 8 election.
  • Memphis Artists for Change will canvass and knock on 500 doors in the most impacted areas. They are particularly concerned about the 1 in 5 Tennesseans who are unable to vote.

“This is an opportunity to continue the conversation we began long ago with voters,” said Kendra Cotton, chief operating officer of the New Georgia Project and member of the BSWC. “Today is part and parcel of a broader plan to engage voters, defend democracy, and continue outreach with officials who are aligned with our vision and values.”

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