Melanie Campbell

*I would like to take this opportunity to thank all voters for taking the time to exercise their right to vote in the November 2nd Mid-Term Election.

On Election Day, the NCBCP (www.ncbcp.org) managed the Black Women’s Roundtable Power the Sister Vote National Command Center, in partnership with the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, The Praxis Project, National African American Clergy Network and Girlfriends Pray to monitor Black voter turnout and voter suppression in 12 states.    

The preliminary reports we received from the ground reflected that Black folks voted, especially women, in strong numbers in many states, contrary to some media reports stating the minority and youth vote was low based on exit polls.  Let us not forget that exit polls have not been very reliable in past national elections.

It is amazing to me how pundits jump to the same conclusion when democrats lose that ‘Black folks and youth must have stayed home,’  only to find that when the official numbers come out weeks later, it usually turns out to be just the opposite that we in fact voted much higher than exit polls reflected.   

Don’t believe the hype, Black folks voted!

No matter what the final official Black voter turnout shows, we know that it could have been even higher if resources were made available much earlier for our Black civil rights, civic sector and trusted voices to do what we do best—Get Out the Black Vote!   

We cannot wait for someone else to fund our politics. The late Dr. Ronald Walters challenged Black leaders for years saying “he who funds our politics, controls our politics.”  

Dr. Walters also gave us the road map over 10 years ago, a Unity strategy to maximize the impact of the Black vote.  This would involve the Black civic sector coming together to create a Unity Civic Engagement Fund to ensure we are empowered to mobilize and leverage our vote so that our issues are addressed by the people we elect to public office on a national, state and local level.  

I truly believe, now is the time to take up Dr. Walters challenge to fund our politics to ensure the Black vote is no longer taken for granted by any party.

We did not underestimate the power of technology in getting the vote out.  Our Black Women’s Roundtable and Black Youth Vote! organizers tweeted, blogged, utilized Facebook and other sites to reinforce the necessity to let your voice be heard by voting in 2010.  

Building the capacity of the Black civic sector will require increasing the use of technology to register, educate, engage and mobilize Black youth and the broader Black electorate.   

We also witnessed several historic moments in American politics for democrats, republicans and women including:

– A major shift in political power with republicans taking control of the U. S. House of Representatives and winning several statewide races in key battleground states. We also witnessed the democrats retaining control of the U. S. Senate.

– First African American woman elected to the U. S. Congress in Alabama (Terri Sewell-Democrat)

– First African American republican elected to Congress since 2003 in South Carolina. (Tim Scott)

– First African American woman elected State Attorney General of California. (Kamala Harris–Democrat)

– First Black immigrant woman elected Lt. Governor of Florida (Jennifer Carroll-Republican, born in Trinidad)

– The only African American governor was reelected to a second term in Massachusetts (Governor Deval Patrick-Democrat)

– First African American republican elected to Congress in Florida (Alan West-Republican)

– First Hispanic woman elected governor in New Mexico. (Susana Martinez-Republican)

– First woman elected governor of South Carolina (Nikki Haley – Republican, whose parents were born in India)

– Majority-minority district elects an African American to the U. S. Congress in Louisiana. (Cedric Richmond-Democrat)

Many pundits also believe the results of the 2010 Mid-Term Election, was a vote against President Obama and his bold policy agenda.  Others believe that the American people want our elected officials to find common ground to work together to turn our economy around to create jobs, educate our children to compete in a global society and other solutions to our nation’s challenges.  

One thing that is for certain, your vote counted and it’s up to each of us to hold our elected officials accountable, no matter the party, to serve our interests, not just for the few, but for all of the American people.

I thank you again for raising your voice by voting.  Remember, together, we are the change we are looking for.

Melanie Campbell is the president & CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of Black Women’s Roundtable.  She is a nationally recognized expert in Black civic engagement, voter participation and coalition building.