Washington — More than 50 organizations are joining forces to mobilize African American voters for, with the coalition announcing the launch of a multi-state voter engagement and organizing effort on Monday.
The National Unity 2022 Black Voting and Power Building Campaign, or Unity 22, will focus on building a broad intergenerational coalition to maximize resources, providing tools to Black voters and fighting back against historic attacks on various rights, according to press releases from the groups.
"It's not just talking about, this is what's on the ballot and this is why you should vote, but really literally organizing as we have been doing for the past year," said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The organization is leading the campaign along with national and state-based partners like the NAACP, National Urban League, National Action Network, Black Voters Matter, NARAL, Emily's List and Building Back Together.
Campbell said the groups aim to match or exceed Black voter turnout levels from the 2018 midterms. More than 122 million people cast ballots in 2018's races, with a 51.4% turnout rate among African Americans, according to the Pew Research Center.
The coalition will kick off a summer of activism in 11 states beginning this week with community events and a call to action on issues ranging from gun safety to voting rights and reproductive rights. It will also include a social media campaign called #RUVoteReady to register and educate voters and a recruitment drive for poll workers and monitors.
"We're combining our advocacy, if you will, in a real tangible way, because you're having these attacks that are falling to the states," Campbell said, citing the Supreme Court'sto overturn Roe v. Wade. "The impact is real because on the ground where people are having to deal with this. It plays out when you can't go to that Planned Parenthood clinic because you go in there for more than an abortion. There are other medical needs."
She said the campaign is starting with upcoming primaries in Michigan and Ohio. It will also target other key battlegrounds, including Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Aides say the group hopes to make more than 1 million Black voter contacts and train more than 500 youth organizers.
"We have to work together to educate our community on how to protect their vote because you have all these voter suppression laws on the books," Campbell explained, referring to the 19 states that passed restrictions last year. "So this will be the first really national election where we're going to see the results."
As President Biden's approval rating has dropped in recent months, support has also softened among Black voters. A recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll found 7 in 10 approve of the president's job performance, down 8 percentage points from the previous year. Sixty percent of those surveyed said the Mr. Biden is keeping most of his campaign promises, while 37% said he has not.
"Biden and Harris are not on the ballot," Campbell countered. "Who's on the ballot are Congress people ... the governors and state legislatures."
She said the coalition would target key demographics, especially young people, where support for Mr. Biden has also eroded.
"So really trying to educate and motivate and do a peer-to-peer model of young people really encouraging their peers," Campbell said. "And yes, there's disappointment, and yes, we have to keep pushing this administration to do, you know, what they promised, and things like that, and that won't stop."
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