By Arleana Waller & Denise L. Norris

“The right to vote is precious, almost scared. People fought for it, bled for it, died for it. Honor their sacrifice. Vote.” – John Lewis

Black Lives Matter? Show that with Your Black VOTE!

Black Voters must use their collective power at the polls. History has proven, we are one of the most influential demographics in the win or loss in any election. We must stand united, using our vote, our voice and our power against systemic racism and suppression in local and national elections. We must fight with our combined intellect, effort and follow through with our vote – it matters!

With this election day just days away, black voters must become better educated on local and national ballot issues and get to the polls. Then cast our votes intentionally – we cannot afford to sit this election or any other one out.

This year, a deadly virus, police violence and economic downturn took a disproportionate toll on our communities, this should serve as a reminder, we’ve got to Vote. We are the swing vote; we determine an election for the win.

Black voters in the Central Valley have an opportunity to create real, impactful change in our communities by tapping into our voting power. We’re spreading our message of Black love, Black joy and Black power across the Central Valley. Join us on October 31st, at our Drop IT Like Its Hot! The Ballot of course, voter’s education and caravan event. Then join our non-partisan finale caravan parade as a symbol of unity and power to an official ballot drop off location.

Vaughn Hicks of 3 Transportation will be providing FREE rides from People’s Missionary Baptist Church in the Southeast to the official ballot box at Bakersfield College.

Our country has a long history of suppressing and rejecting Black votes. A recent court ruling on so-called “naked ballots” has fueled confusion around one of the safest alternatives to in-person voting during a pandemic. Disinformation and “fake news” have created distrust in the electoral system. And threats of voter intimidation are stirring fear in Black communities.

The steering committee consist of five influential, intentional Black professional and dynamic women from our community with the goal to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. Because when the election dust settles and the country moves on. We will still be here, engaging, educating and building civic leaders. Educating voters how to get rid of elected officials who are deeply disconnected from our issues and aggressively working against the Black community.

But, for our democracy to reach its final form, the answer cannot be that one party has tried to answer the call, it must be that each party does so and without penalty or fear. John Lewis made this argument in 1963, he channeled the frustrations of Black America and excoriated the nations partisan democracy for posturing on race relations instead of taking revolutionary action to realize the promise of America. His rhetorical question still rings true today as racial justice protests continue in all 50 states and around the world. Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march in the streets for the simple human right that should automatically be given. Until we establish that, we must show up and vote like our life depends on it, because it does.

Arleana Waller, ShePower Global Ambassador

Founder, ShePower, MLKcommUNITY Initiative

Denise L Norris, Professor

Founder, Inspire To Go Higher