By Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen
With a few days left until Election Day some are speculating what the overall turnout will be among Black women. Black women were among the most active voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections. In fact, Black women make up 6.3 percent of the total U.S. voting age population, but represented 9 percent of the 2012 and 2014 electorate due to their higher voter turnout.
Over the past several election cycles, Black women have demonstrated that their robust involvement is an absolutely essential foundation of any winning coalition. Black women’s participation in the last two Presidential elections transcended just showing up at the polls and voting. A closer look at our involvement reveals that voting was just the beginning. The Obama for America strategy provided meaningful tools of engagement -from hosting house parties to organizing virtual phone banks and door-knocking opportunities.
The effectiveness of the campaign’s engagement, investment and tailored messaging resulted in a surge in Black women’s overall engagement. That participation has not only expanded the electorate of first-time voters, but it has also mobilized a record number of first-time political donors and bundlers. This crucial post-Obama bridge election presents a movement-building opportunity designed for and by Black women, independent of any particular candidate.
The 2016 election provides an opportunity to harness Black women’s power by turning out the vote. Furthermore, it gives us the opportunity to leverage that voting strength into the power to shape and inform political debates from equal pay and affordable health care to reproductive rights and community safety. This November’s election results will be determined in large part by the turnout rates among Black women.
There are several factors to consider this cycle: Will Black women voters, many who voted for the first time in 2008 and 2012 return to the polls? Is there an enthusiasm gap among Black women voters? What strategies and messages will motivate Black women’s engagement? Can we activate this critical 2008 and 2012 voting bloc, turn them out to the polls and motivate them to organize their communities? The answer is yes!
The late Shirley Chisholm, once said, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” This statement rings true today and Black women have a pivotal role to play in helping to move the country forward. But, we must activate our networks. History has demonstrated that when you fire up a Black woman she does not go to the polls alone. She brings her house, her block, her church, her sorority and her water cooler.
According to Nielson, Black women are one of the largest users of social media. The #BlackWomenVote campaign is tapping into the organizing power of Black women, encouraging them to raise their voices, cast their votes and show their power. The campaign is engaging Black women vote this election and to mobilize their networks to the polls. The campaign has tools and resources to help everyday Black women organize their networks from shareable graphics and videos, FaceBook Live events and ‘Share Your Vote Story’ opportunities.
We need you to flex your power and help us move hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls by November 8th. Join the campaign and help to register your folks to vote, take them to the polls, and discuss the issues and candidates that matter. Go to www.Blackwomenvote.com, where you will find all of the tools, information and planning guides you need to educate yourself and mobilize your network. Some are expecting us to stay home, let’s prove them wrong.
Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen are co- founders of Higher Heights for America, a national organization focused on harnessing Black women’s political power and leadership potential. They have organized #BlackWomenVote, a nonpartisan voter-activism campaign which is the leading, independent and trusted voice for Black women leading up to and beyond Election Day 2016, www.BlackWomenVote.com.