“We are still in the Civil Rights Movement,” shouted the Rev. All Sharpton, who delivered a message of hope and faith during a voter awareness rally Thursday night at Bright Hope Baptist Church.
“It’s hard to comprehend that in 2012 we must fight for the right to vote in this country. But as you are well aware, that is precisely the action that is needed as voter suppression efforts work to threaten the very notion of democracy as we know it,” he said in a recent letter.
Community leaders, parishioners, students and parents packed the church for the voting rally and keynote address.
“With all that we have been through and still face, having to beg folks to vote is just shameful,” Sharpton said. “When about five million Americans may be disenfranchised from the polls this November - according to the Brennan Center for Justice - we understand that complacency is not an option.”
Cush El of Germantown learned of the voter event from his karate instructor. Like most Black Americans, he is familiar with Sharpton, and shares the same concerns that the recently-passed voter ID laws are tools to keep the poor, the elderly and African-Americans from voting.
“I am very concerned about this election because Romney is planning to take us back to the ‘50s,” El said. “This is my first time seeing Sharpton live. I think he is smart, articulate and understands the concerns in our communities.
“President Barack Obama is taking us forward -- and it’s important for everyone to get out and vote next month.”
15-year-old Jeanette Flamer of West Philadelphia is not old enough to vote yet, but still cares about politics and the upcoming election. “My mother shared what voting means to her, and why it is so important. I want to hear what others have to say,” she said.
Watching the debates, attending rallies and watching the news contribute to Flamer’s understanding. “This rally is good because it brings the support together, and allows everyone to connect in a positive way.”
As president and founder of the National Action Network (NAN), Sharpton is taking his message across the country, sometimes hosting two and three engagements a day.
Sharpton and NAN Ministers Division joined forces to host the NAN “Voter Engagement Tour.” The event was led by Pastor Michael Walrond, Jr., head of the Ministers Division, in conjunction with Education for a Better America.
Key events included workshops informing the voting public about the candidates and the issues, and engagement volunteers explaining about new laws that will impact their respective communities.
The Voter Engagement tour kicked-off in June and continues through Election Day. NAN’s goal is to educate and empower the electorate on how to combat these restrictive new voter requirements, and ultimately protect voter rights.
NAN will tour many of the states and cities impacted by these new draconian laws and align efforts to create an infrastructure to continue voter education and protection. For more information, visit http://nationalactionnetwork.net.