By Alexander Speid
Georgia powershift. January 5, 2021.
The first African American, Reverend Raphael Warnock was elected to represent the state in the US senate. John Ossoff, son of Jewish immigrants, was also chosen to represent Georgia for the US senate. It is a major change for Georgia, which has always been strictly Republican.
The Black vote, and the young vote has turned out for a run-off, not just for the November 2020 presidential vote, but further votes for the state and senate. History has been made, and much of it has been done from Georgia’s hard work to lead the charge, especially from Black women.
On January 12th, The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation conducted a zoom call to speak about the integral impact of Black women and youth leadership, and how they were contributing factors to the Run-Off Election. The collective leadership of people who put in effort in Georgia to save democracy, in spite of the event in DC’s US capitol.
“The attempted coup cannot deter us from having a responsive government and strong democratic senate.” Said Melanie Campbell—Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Coalition on Black Civic Par-ticipation, Inc., and organizer of the zoom call.
The attendees were.
Helen Butler, executive director and Georgia coalition of the people’s agenda, and convener of the Georgia Black Women’s Round Table.
Felicia Davis, convener Clayton County, Georgia’s Black Women’s Round Table, and ex-ecutive director of the HBCU Green Fund.
Deborah Scott, executive director of Georgia Stand Up, and a regional partner of Georgia Unity 2020-2021 campaign.
Mary Pat-Hector, state coordinator of Geor-gia Black Youth Vote at the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.
Ariel Singleton, a state coordinator for the Georgia Black Youth Vote, as well as executive organizer of Georgia Stand Up.
Jared Sawyer Jr. who severed as a state Coordinator for Georgia Black Youth Vote, HBCU Green Fund, and powerhouse in the faith community.
The questions related to multiple topics; Their opinions on other Black Organizations in Georgia helping save the democracy and shifting power in the White House, will the results of the Run-Off help to expand Black political power, the key issues that drove Black youth to turn out, the motivation for Black women to vote both in November, and for the 2021 Run-Off, and finally, what comes next in 2021?
Helena Butler was elated about the 4.4 million people (which was 90 percent of the November turn-out) who had taken the initiative to show up again to vote. Helena also appreciated the new techniques of digital organizing to reach out to more people, as well as trusted messengers all across the board that related to the issues in those areas.
She goes on to say that Black women have always been the ones to take care of their communities. The sight of Black children brutalized by police, the disparities in healthcare, and the inequities in economic empowerment were the most important turning points for Black women to demonstrate their power while bring everyone else with them.
Ask for 2021? Helena says it will be a cycle of 2020; fighting against oppression; the fight against the takeaway of mail-in ballots, the fight against corrupt system of racial injustice, and so on.
“The cycle repeats itself.” Helena states. “That’s why we can’t get tired, we have to continue. It’s 365 days; we need to register again; we need to educate again.”
Felicia Davis explained how significant the Black community was to bring about the change needed in America. Black people going to the polls, making good, thoughtful decision. She especially felt proud to see the power of the Black women’s’ vote.
“We gave America something to hold on to,” Felicia said, “at a time when America totally needed it.”
Felicia speaks on how the work put into getting to such a point, from all facets of the Black community organizations, was a com-bined effort of progress. However, the racial justice was still a permeating factor. She feels vindication in seeing Black Lives Matter and Black youth finally making the noise Black moms have been saying for years prior. It was a push for Black women to make a stronger effort to help the community to vote.
“There has always been a cotangent of this country that thinks we should not have, and we should not be.” Felicia says, “I think that is sad to see what happens, but that resonates with my hardened spirit, given all the work we’ve done, and we never do anything fraudulent.”
Felicia sees Black women as the back bone of this push for empowerment, but the young people need to see and stay prepared for what 2021 brings.
Deborah Scott was cau-tiously optimistic of the vic-tory, due to the dark forces that conspire to tarnish the good of the Black community in the wake of what happened in the US Capitol. She refers to her and the other women in the meeting, being trained and inspired by Reverend James Orange and Reverend Joseph Lowry, in hitting the streets to build correlations to educate young people on how the trade works. Technology was a major component to the learning process of embracing new methods. Every step of the way was a new obstacle to overcome, thanks to investing, and trusting in Black women, while bringing the next gene-ration with them.
In regard to the run-off of 2021, in terms of Black women, Deborah says that there was a tapping into the pain of Black women with healthcare, COVID vaccines, food, etc. She explains that Black women are stronger in showing empathy, before asking families to show out for political changes. Black women coalitions are fighting economic disparity, as well as the inequality of power from a legislative perspective.
Debora talks about white rage, and ensuring our families, communities, and organizations are protected during the inauguration; especially in protecting Vice President, Kamala Harris, the first Black, South Asian woman to become Vice Presi-dent.
Mary Pat-Hector is happy to see young Black people begin to get more involved in the political process just as she did. She is proud that all the work put into the People’s Agenda since she was nine years old had paid off, and that it is imperative to build on that foundation.
“We allowed young people to lead, and we saw them incorporate new voter ideas; strategically focusing on young people voters.” Mary Pat said. “Georgia’s just different.”
Mary highlights Novem-ber, and the Black youths asking about the different candidates, due to the misguided presidency of Donald Trump. Young people now began to ask more about their senate choices; questioning the candidates on what their thoughts were on Black issues. Mary-Pat said she was proud to be a part of her generation of young people for embracing that political power that they now have.
Ariel Singleton showed appreciation in the work and collective strengths of Black women and Black people coming together and changing the very power structure of political parties. She gives praise to the strong Black women that helped to give the Black community a fighting stance.
Ariel believed innovation was strongest on bringing awareness of the Black vote. Different ways to speak out through door knocking, social media, and using the resources present. She speaks on how the youth could now be able to see the direct response from the government in terms of how it will affect us all from protest, to politics, to power.
“It lit a fire in the youth,” Ariel explained. and promoted them to do what was right for them, politically.”
Ariel wants 2021 to be a time when we are active on holding officials accountable in economic equity, transportation equity, and not to let the coup on the US capitol deter the progress. We must impower our youth to keep them going, without losing that momentum. Ariel wants the attempted coup on the Capitol to be used as a means to do something about it.
Jared Sawyer Jr shares only two words; Unbelievable—to see so many Black people activate their power of the vote, and Inspiring—for being a part of history that would continue a momentum to be engaged to vote.
Jared brings up the voter suppression and COVID bringing people together in the figurative sense to reach the people during such turbulent time. He says that the issues of economic disparity; like student loan forgiveness and the trillions of dollars in checks for local business going to bigger chains, were the main reasons for youths to start and see how voting was key.
Jared spoke about the Black men finally pushing forward with Black women. He explained that most Black men only came out when it revolved around their fellow man. But now, as Jared has stated, it has to be more of a combined effort to not only protect Black men but Black women as well.
The events of the US Capitol coup have traumatized Jared through the sheer brutality of it all. However, he sees that there is something to gain from the event.
“Young people are more encouraged and empowered because they saw that the face of white nationalism has made itself bare and intentionally did that to send a message.” Jared explained. “If they do not respond they way that they can and should by getting out there and vote and be involved in politics, then their agenda to “make America great again” will be realiz