melanie campbell

Melanie Campbell is President of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

*For the first time since 1996 when the U.S. Census Bureau began publishing records on voting, Black voters have surpassed their White counterparts in casting ballots.

The historic voting was made during balloting in the 2012 election for candidates for President and the U.S. Congress.

What happened? What made the difference? To who/what is owed this history making fete?

Melanie Campbell had the answer- letting loose a laugh, no doubt one of pride, said, “Black women, Black women, Black women.”

Campbell is President of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, a civil rights group, whose mission is to increase civic engagement and voter participation in Black and underserved communities.

Campbell stressed people should think beyond the ballot box, “It’s a moment to celebrate and pause and to really figure out now what does this mean. What other things can we do? What other records can we break for the good of using the vote, not just to break voting records but to really move an agenda?”

Based on history in a presidential election when you have an incumbent running the voting numbers go down. But, Campbell says not so in this case.

President Barack Obama, she said, helped bring voting numbers up for African Americans but they were already rising.

“There’s a myth that we’ve just started turning out when President Obama ran. Yeah. It went to another level.” But, Campbell says a celebrated sociologist put it best, “The late Ron Walters (noted scholar and activist) would always educate us on the gap between Black and White voting had been decreasing over the ‘90’s into the early 2000’s.”

Campbell truly believes in the power of the vote – in more ways than one.

“You can’t just go push the lever. You got to push in Congress – show up. That old saying ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’ is still unfortunately the reality of politics.”

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women’s Roundtable are currently working on a number of things, she says, including issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act.

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Hear Tene’ Croom’s interview Melanie Campbell: