By Hamil R. Harris
Wes Moore, the son of a single mother who rose to become a Rhodes Scholar, Army Captain and best selling author, was elected as the governor of Maryland on Tuesday. Moore is not only Maryland’s first African American governor, but only the third Black person elected as governor following L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
“Thank you, Maryland! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Maryland!” said Moore during an acceptance speech standing with his wife, children and mother in Baltimore. “What an amazing night and what an improbable journey.”
During his speech, Moore thanked outgoing Republican Governor Larry Hogan who supported him over the Donald Trump-backed opponent on a night when results show a politically divided country.
But Moore looked at the racially mixed crowd and said, “You believed in this moment: our state could be bolder. You believed in this moment our state could go faster.”
In a glorious tribute, Moore thanked his wife, children and his mother. But the Moore victory came on a tough night for both Republicans and Democrats who are still awaiting which party will control the House and the Senate.
Among other key races:
•In Georgia, Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams lost her rematch with Gov. Brian Kemp 53.4 percent-45.9 percent.
•Also in Georgia, Sen. Raphael Warnock appears to have narrowly defeated former NFL star Herschel Walker 49.42 percent-48.52 percent. But that race is headed to a run-off because neither candidate got 51 percent of the vote Dec. 6.
•In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman defeated Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz.
•Republican JD Vance defeated Democrat Tim Ryan in Ohio.
With heated races and millions of people voting, election protection was very much on the minds of civil rights activists across the US. A network of “poll chaplains” stood outside precincts across the country to pray and ensure that voters exercised their right to vote on Election Day.
Reminiscent of the days when civil rights activists faced racism, police dogs, and poll taxes, Organizers of the “Faith United to Save Democracy Campaign recruited, trained, and mobilized faith leaders of many races to promote peace at the polls.
“We have recruited and trained more than 700 poll chaplains in 10 states who are committed to providing a peaceful and calming presence at polling sites across America,” said Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Coordinator of FUSD.
This is the time of year when misinformation and disinformation are heightened to discourage vulnerable voters from making it to the polls.”
Skinner said she was moved to organize such an effort after the 2020 elections when conservatives in 49 states proposed 440 anti-voting measures 19 states passed 33 laws making it harder to vote, including laws that prohibited food and water from being given to people waiting in line to vote.
Skinner said while in previous years the focus was on turning out the “Black Vote,” the focus was expanded to include people of many races because “Jews and Muslims and Quakers were affected and in effect, these laws also would have an impact on people, “young and old, Latino, white, Native American and we could not afford to keep our focus so narrow.”
Rev. Gerald Durley, the retired pastor of the Provident Baptist Church in Atlanta, has worked hard to get people to vote. He said he wouldn’t just take the word of his grandchildren.
“I had my grandchildren send me photos showing that they voted because it is just that important,” Durley said. “We can’t afford a runoff because you just don’t know what will happen.”
Last month pastors in Georgia announced a massive effort to ensure that over 1,000 local churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faith institutions create their own customized voter engagement campaigns to provide every person within their local congregations has the information and ability to vote this fall.
“In 2020, African-Americans in Georgia made voting history, and we are clearly on the verge of doing it once again,” said AME Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, the Presiding Prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District and a founding member of Faith Works.
“Despite every effort by extremists to minimize Black turnout this voting cycle, our communities are responding like never before with urgency and enthusiasm. With early voting finally rolling out next week, Georgia will see that our communities are organized and determined.”
Meanwhile, on the eve of the election, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden came to the campus of Bowie State University in Maryland to rally supporters for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore.
“I am so thankful for the first family to be here,” Moore said. “If we stand divided, we can not win. If we stand together, we can not lose. Democracy is not just a day. Democracy is not just a single act; it is an honored commitment.”