Posted on: December 3, 2023 Posted by: Christina Bronner Comments: 0

A Love Letter to Black Voters

 

“…a man once sat in the seat I currently hold and could not vote.”

 

Millions of Black voters across this country know what it feels like to stand in long lines to exercise their right to the most precious promise of our democracy–their right to vote. This is a promise Black voters have not known for long in this country, especially in places like my home state of Mississippi. It is also a promise unfulfilled in places like Mississippi, where it’s challenging to vote. I woke the morning of Election Day with my mind set on freedom. Tired from a lack of sleep the day before and, quite frankly, the months leading up to Election Day, I prayed for a safe and fair election for all Mississippians.

 

As so many people walked throughout M.W. Stringer Lodge, I felt the spirit of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, Ida B. Wells, and Hollis Watkins. I felt the dreams of many Mississippians who walked these halls or sat in one of many rooms for a meeting to discuss how to gain the right to vote for Black voters. Sitting at my desk in the office once occupied by Medgar Evers, I heard and saw the work of our election protection call center. Witnessing the busy volunteers reminded me that a man once sat in the seat I currently hold and could not vote. Even more painful, he lost his life doing the work I do daily, free from those life-threatening fears. We were protecting the vote and giving instructions to Black Mississippians who, decades ago, were not afforded the same opportunities.

 

I knew then, regardless of the outcome, we must celebrate the Black vote. Celebrate Black voters because lives were lost, jobs were taken, and fundamental rights were denied. Despite all the calls we received through the call center, the call that made my day came from my auntie. She informed me my 91-year-old uncle wanted me to escort him to the polls to serve as his protection in this election. Having lived through Jim Crow Era Mississippi, he was nervous about potential intimidations and other voter suppression tactics. It was an honor to be with him while he exercised his right to vote. As a military veteran, He fought for this country at a young age but could not vote at the ballot box.

 

This is a love letter to Black voters in Mississippi. Thank you to the thousands of you who showed up and out. In Mississippi and throughout the country, the Black vote is the most reliable voting bloc because Black voters recognize our collective power and understand the link between voting and issues within our communities. Using civic engagement as a framework is a concept that is incorporated into the everyday life of Black voters.

 

We must continue to invest in ourselves. We must continue to have strategies and plans developed by Black Mississippians. Today, one might feel defeated, but know that the fight continues. Be inspired by the words of Medgar Evers, “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.” Find comfort in knowing how far we have come and joy in knowing—”When We Fight, We Win!”

 

Love,

Charles

 

Charles Taylor
Courtesy of New York Times

About the Author

Charles V. Taylor, Jr. is a graduate of Morehouse College and a member of Freedom Side, a national collective of social justice community organizers. He served as a State Organizer for the Mississippi Conference NAACP 2012 “This is My Vote” campaign, which registered 29,000+ African Americans to vote in Mississippi. Taylor was a Field Director and Campaign Coordinator for the Better Schools, Better Jobs (Initiative 42 in MS to fully fund education). Recently, he consulted for One Voice, Inc. as a data manager and a community organizer for Energy Democracy. Taylor also consults a Data Consultant with MS Votes. Taylor recently served as the Data Director for Mike Espy for the Senate Campaign in 2018 and served as the Data Director for Jay Hughes for Lt. Governor of Mississippi in 2019.

 

Taylor served as the Data Scientist for the National Baptist Convention for the 2018 midterm election cycle and currently serves as the Statistician for the National Baptist Convention under the leadership of President Jerry Young. Taylor also serves as the Southern Organizing Advisor to the Groundwork Project founded by Joe Kennedy, III. In August of 2022, Taylor was named the Executive Director of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP.

 

Taylor is the principal at Peyton Strategies, a political data firm based in Mississippi specializing in data collection and management. Taylor provides consulting services for non-profits and progressive candidates ranging from federal to local districts. With a background in community organizing, political direction, and canvassing, Taylor has a unique perspective, intuitive insight, and sound judgment in the area of political analytics.

 

Taylor uses his voice and platform to empower, encourage, and spark change.

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