ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s black church leaders and activists held a meeting to get congregations to vote on Sunday in the midterm elections.
At the Rainbow Baptist Church outside Atlanta, about 20 cars and a motorcoach decorated with the image of civil rights icon John Lewis formed a caravan in the parking lot. Teresa Hardy, organizer of voting rights group The Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, led a prayer before the caravan headed to the polling station at a nearby shopping mall.
Few people in the group actually voted, but organizers said it was important to encourage voting, especially given the new restrictions enacted by the state legislature.
“Your rights have been taken away,” said Comalco Brackett, pastor of Rainbow Baptist. “We have to go out and cross color boundaries and face them together.”
State legislators nearly eliminated Sunday voting under a bill signed into law last year. The Republican-backed bill follows false claims that former President Donald Trump was unable to re-elect in 2020 due to voter fraud.
While lawmakers have rescinded the Sunday voting ban, the bill would reduce the time required to require mail-in ballots, curtail the expansion of ballot drop boxes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and allow early voting before the runoff. and prohibited groups from handing out food and water. to voters in line.
Republicans said Georgia’s new law was necessary to restore confidence in the state’s electoral system. Civil rights advocates see this as an attack on black voters, and the Democrats won the 2020 presidential election in Georgia for the first time since his 1992 victory and then two seats in the state’s Senate. considered an attack on black voters who contributed to They are resisting by redoubled efforts to elect black voters.
Helen Butler, executive director of People’s Agenda, said: “Whatever barriers they try to put up, we’re going to find ways for people to overcome those barriers so that they can actually exercise their right to vote.” said.
Sunday’s caravan ended at a strip mall, where dozens held signs urging passers-by to vote. did. The secretary of state said more than 1.25 million voters were casting in person as of Friday morning, with voter turnout he’s up more than 50%. From the 2018 Interim Conference.
“Our ancestors fought much harder than we fight,” said Rhonda Taylor, leader of the AME Church in Atlanta, who attended Sunday’s service.
Senator Rafael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta, who is up for re-election in November, attended another “soul to poll” event at his church in Atlanta.
“Soul to the Poll” reflects the central role of the black church in the fight for justice and freedom in America, said W. Franklin Richardson, president of the board of directors of the National Conference of Black Churches. I was.
Richardson said efforts like this election cycle are particularly important.
“Having such an urgent election is the cumulative result of our people being challenged and threatened,” he said.
The idea of ”giving polls a soul” dates back to the civil rights movement. Mississippi black entrepreneur Reverend George Lee was assassinated by white supremacists in 1955 after he helped nearly 100 black residents register to vote in the town of Belzoni.
Matthew Delmont, a professor of history at Dartmouth, said it reflected a greater effort by the black community to leverage the church for voting rights.
In addition to motivating potential voters, pastors provide “logistical support to get people to go directly from church services to votes,” he said.
Field reported from Washington.
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