Committee forms to encourage Black men to vote

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Wave Staff Report

LOS ANGELES — A political action committee based here has announced a national strategic campaign to urge Black men to participate in the electoral process at all levels and to encourage them to vote for the Biden-Harris 2020 Democratic ticket.

Launched by attorneys Dermot Givens, James Smith and Joey Hill, Black Men Voting is a network of Black men who support the Biden-Harris ticket and hope to increase the percentage of Black male voters nationwide.

“The goal of BlackMenVoting is to directly confront and counter efforts to suppress the number of Black men voting,” Givens said. “Politics is about controlling the message. We are going to counter the Republicans’ fake outreach to Black men.

“We’re not going to allow the other side to control the message. As Biden says, ‘it’s for the soul of America.’ Black men have soul. We have an opportunity to change the direction of this country.”

In support of the campaign, the organization unveiled a celebrity ad campaign called “Kings Supporting Our Queens,” featuring actors Lynn Whitfield and Malcolm Jamal Warner. Other celebrity ads are expected to be released each week leading up to Election day, Nov. 3.

“I’m putting all my confidence, and my vote, and my efforts and my hard work into electing Biden-Harris,” Whitfield said. “We raise our voices and vote.”

“Brothers, vote like your life depends upon it because it does,” Warner added. “Now is the time.”

Givens announced that BlackMenVoting has started a vigorous social media campaign targeting Black male voters in not only Los Angeles, but the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

Democrats have long relied on Black voters to get them over the finish line. While Black women have always been the Democrat’s loyal Black base, it’s not a given with Black male voters, who came out in record numbers for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but failed to show the full strength of their voting weight for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“With Kamala Harris on the ticket, Joe Biden may have an advantage,” Givens said. “The data has shown us that Kamala Harris is the key motivation for Black men going to the polls. As Mike Bloomberg has just concluded by putting up $14 million, a small percentage of Black men voting in Florida can be the key to a Biden/Harris victory.”

Black voter turnout declined in 2016 for the first time in 20 years. Statistics show that Black men may be more likely than Black women to stay home — but represent more untapped potential for individual candidates.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, 64% of eligible Black women said they voted, compared with 54% of eligible Black men. College-educated Black women were only slightly more likely than college-educated Black men to report turning out to vote in 2016 (74% vs. 71%).

White men and white women were more likely to say they voted than their Black counterparts (67% of white women and 64% of white men in 2016).

BlackMenVoting is joined in its efforts by the Los Angeles chapters of the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 100 Black Men and members of Los Angeles’ Black clergy.

“Throughout our history, Black men have voted in significantly fewer numbers than Black women and the general population,” said Jewett L. Walker Jr. of 100 Black Men Los Angeles. “At no time is our participation more needed and more important than it is right now and will be in November. We must understand the critical issues of health care, the economy, jobs, and education as the reason for us coming together and voting in significant numbers. We can no longer sit idly by and expect the Black women to do the voting on our behalf.”