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sharpton-in-crowd-of-haitiaSouls to the Polls punctuated Election 2014

By Derek Joy

And so, it came to pass. . .

Widespread media created more than sidebar stories as people early voting concluded its 14 day run.

Bishop Victor T. Curry, senior pastor of New Birth Cathedral of Faith and president of the local Miami Dade Chapter of NAN (National Action Network), issued a frequent reminder leading up to the 2012 Presidential Election.

The message was that the partying and celebration that followed the 2008 Election that saw Barack Obama become the first Black American elected President should be replaced with concentrated efforts.

Curry, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and national NAN president, coined the phrased “Souls to the Polls”, geared toward an all out effort of the Black American church community to mobilize voters.

“It’s politics,” said Sandra Stacy Gibbs, a Miami Dade registered voter. “We can all just cast our votes and pray that the best person to meet our needs prevails. It’s not a lackadaisical attitude. However it’s what dictates behind closed doors that matters.

“Everybody promises jobs. What we need is someone to help Black owned businesses, create safer environments for all ages, not just help the rich get richer, especially by fighting wars. We just need to build a better foundation.”

Broward, Miami Dade, Jacksonville, the Tampa-St. Peters-burg area, and other areas throughout Florida, saw Black American churches galvanize voters and descend on polling precincts in impressive numbers.

The mid-term elections don’t result in a voter turnout equal in number to that of a Presidential Election. Yet the political dirt flew nonstop, the bashing was never ending, and many people surmised that it was simply laying the ground-work for the 2016 Presidential Election.

“For sure that’s what it is,” said George Stewart, a Miami Gardens resident. “They’ve got nothing for Hillary Clinton. So 2016 is up in the air for Republicans.”

Stewart alluded to former First  Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton being the most likely Democratic Presidential Candidate/Nominee, while Republicans are still scampering about, seeking its nominee.

“I think it was successful,” said El Portal Mayor Daisy Black, a member of St. Paul AME Church. We (more than 200 people) go from the church (1861 N.W. 52 St.) to the Caleb Center.”

Black is locked in a re-election battle against Councilwoman Claudia Cubillos in an election that could see four new Village Council members. Councilman Omar Nickerson is the only un-challenged seat.

“Anytime you motivate the masses to vote, it’s a good thing,” said the Rev. Dr. James Bush III, associate pastor of Antioch Baptist Church of Brownsville and a former Florida State Representative.

“It’s a good thing because it provides an opportunity to take advantage of the sacrifices that have been made by Blacks just to get the right to vote.  Some people are self motivated.  Others need to be motivated and inspired by outside forces.

“As long as we have party politics in this country, there’ll always be a need to motivate people to vote because there will always be political bashing of each other.  They do that to avoid dealing with the real issues.  It’s still a plantation mentality.”

Hence, the “Souls to the Polls” effort appeared to have increased voter turnout for the mid-term elections where the marquee race was Republican Governor Rick Scott being challenged by former Republican Governor Charlie Crist, a Democrat.

That race saw Republicans attack President Obama and Democrats in Congress.  Democrats, in turn, attacked Scott, the Republican majority in the Florida State Legislature, as well as Republicans in Congress.

Hence, the Souls to the Polls Campaign has kicked off a much needed counter attack to the abuse and neglect Black Americans encounter in the political and socio-economic arenas.



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