I spent part of Election Day at the Power of the Sister Vote Command Center, organized by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Black Women’s Roundtable.
The Command Center was co-hosted by Clayola Brown, Melanie Campbell, Dr. Elsie Scott and Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner. Between Twitter updates, Facebook posts and media conference calls, the center was a beehive of activity.
The sisters were determined to tell our story in real time with field reports from black women who were leading nonpartisan GOTV efforts and monitoring the polls.
And the story is, black voters turned out. Exit polls show African American voters represented 10 percent of the electorate, virtually unchanged from 2006. If the past is prologue, black women represented a disproportionate share of the black electorate.
Indeed, it bears remembering that among all racial, ethnic and gender groups, black women had the highest voter turnout rate in 2008.
To be sure, Democrats were hoping for a presidential year surge in black voters but they have to ask themselves: What did they do to make it happen? Where were the resources to mobilize black voters? A last-minute black media spend is not a GOTV plan.
With the defunding of black voter empowerment groups dating back to 2004 2000, the sisters made a way out of no way. As Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant observed during the “Black Girls Rock: Celebrating the Brilliance of Black Women” awards show:
Black girls rock because we have no other choice.
An intergenerational group of black women will rock the house that Dr. Dorothy I. Height built when they gather for the Power of the Sister Vote post-election briefing. They will discuss black voter turnout, how women candidates fared in congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races. They will share their views and outlook on what impact the new political landscape will have on issues of importance to women and families.
The panelists are:
- Barbara Arnwine, Esq., Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Melanie L. Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
- Chanelle Hardy, Esq., Senior Vice President & Executive Director, National Urban League Policy Institute
- Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, Executive Director, National Council of Negro Women
- Carol Joyner, Consultant, Labor Project for Working Families
- Illai Kenney, Black Youth Vote! Coordinator, Howard University
- Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chairwoman, Congressional Black Caucus
- Laura Murphy, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
- Dr. Elsie Scott, President & CEO, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
- Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Facilitator, National African American Clergy Network
I have the distinct honor of moderating the discussion.
The briefing will be held on Wednesday, November 17, from 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., at the National Council of Negro Women Headquarters, 633 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC.