Black voting education and action in Florida in the 2016 Campaign
By Roger Caldwell
As the 2016 election cycle ramps up in Florida, the success of the Black vote will be determined by the Black Women vote and organization. In 2008 and 2012, Black women had the highest turnout of any group, with 60 per-cent of 18 to 29-year-old Black women hitting the polls in 2012 despite a national decline.
Black women all over the country have already started educating themselves about voting through its Power of the Sister Vote, launched by Essence magazine last month. This is very important in Florida, because there will be a tour in Orlando, and this is the beginning of a statewide organization throughout the state. As more sisters in Florida get organized, and registered to vote, Black men must step up to the plate.
In 2014, the Black community in Florida did a poor job going to the polls, and the Republicans won every powerful office in the state. With 2.5 million Blacks registered to vote in Florida, the majority are members of the Democratic Party. But many Black registered voters in Florida believe that our issues are not addressed by the Florida Democratic Party.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but there appears to be no excitement and enthusiasm for this achievement in the Florida Black community. Voting rights is something that our ancestors fought for and some even died, but many young Black voters are not registered, and many may not vote in 2016 election. They think voting is a sham, and it does not matter what politician wins in the election, because they all are corrupt.
But, if Black Lives Really Matter, it is time for Blacks in Florida to take action and start educating each other that our vote is our voice. President Obama would not have won Florida, if Blacks did not go to the polls and vote. If more Blacks, young and old are registered to vote in Florida, and we vote as a bloc, more Blacks and Democrats will be voted into office, because voting percentages are down.
In the Orlando mayoral election in 2015, only 15 percent of the registered voters in the city went to the polls and voted. If 500,000 new Blacks are registered in Florida, and the 2.5 million Blacks already registered, vote as a bloc, we can start the transformation of Florida into a Blue state.
Black women in Florida must wake up the sleeping giant in the Black Florida vote. A Black united front must start with Black women coalitions, and Black men must get engaged and be on board. Many Black men in Florida are not able to vote, because of their criminal disenfranchisement. The number of Black felons in Florida has ballooned significantly, due to the growing number in the Black prison population, but Black men can still vote if they make voting a major issue.
There is no easy answer in Florida to Black voter engagement, but the civil rights groups, Black political officials, Black churches, Black media groups and Black college political groups must put together a Black voter educational and action plan. This voting plan must be comprehensive and be presented to the Florida Democratic Party for financial and resource support. There should also be a self-sustaining component where the Florida Black community raises a million dollars to support this voting imitative plan.