There is a conversation happening right now about whether the Democratic Party provides enough support and outreach to the African-American community, even as it is readily apparent that our community — particularly black women — are the most loyal voting bloc in the party.
Year after year, we’ve seen black women organizing in the neighborhoods, turning out their friends and family to vote.
But that loyalty and dedication is not always rewarded.
The Ohio Democratic Party is working to change that, and they’ve created a Minority Engagement Program — led by Ron McGuire, the longtime district director for Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, and staffed by local consultants who come from the community — to ensure the Democratic Party is reaching out, and more importantly, listening to African-American voters.
“We started our work in the spring, holding roundtables to learn about what was working — and what isn’t working — in minority communities across the state,” said McGuire. “Sometimes there were some tough things we needed to hear, but that’s what this was all about. Then we took what we heard and what we learned, and we turned that into an action plan, not just for 2018, but for 2019 and beyond, too. That’s because we can’t just keep showing up during an election year and asking for someone’s vote; we have to build and rebuild relationships, and we need to be present 365 days a year, whether there’s an election coming up or not.”
The minority engagement team is connecting with local faith leaders, organizing events in small businesses like barbershops and beauty salons and reaching out to Black Greek organizations to educate and empower African-American voters.
“As African Americans, we’ve all seen what’s been happening in this country since President Obama left office,” said McGuire. “The most important thing is to let folks know that they have the power to do something about it. There is strength and power in numbers, but we only have that power if we organize and vote. And after that, we have to hold our elected officials accountable once they’re in office.”
McGuire emphasized that issues like health care and criminal justice reform are all on the ballot in 2018.
Republicans like Mike DeWine and Jim Renacci want to repeal Obamacare, take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes and defund programs that help fight infant mortality. Meanwhile, Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rich Cordray would protect Obamacare, defend Medicaid expansion, which has provided health coverage to 700,ooo Ohioans, and keep funding for Planned Parenthood.
This fall Ohio voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would reform sentencing, divest from prisons and invest in communities. In addition to reclassifying minor drug possession offenses as misdemeanors, the ballot initiative would also end the probation-to-prison pipeline.
The Ohio Democratic Party’s minority engagement team will be talking with voters about these issues and more from now through Election Day.
If you’d like to find out more, text TEAM to 909-75.