By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Ahead of the all-important 2022 midterm elections, reports show that more than 55
million Americans remain unregistered to vote – and about 10 million are African
Americans who are eligible to vote but who are unregistered.
Whether the reason is because of apathy, suppression, or other means, the National
Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Transformative Justice Coalition
seek to get to the bottom of why, with so much at stake, voter registration and GOTV
mobilization remain lacking notably among Black Americans across the nation.
During the national convention marking the 195th-anniversary celebration of the
Black Press of America in New Orleans, leaders of both organizations announced a get-
out-to-vote campaign aimed at registering and mobilizing GOTV for 10 million more
African Americans to vote in time for the 2022 midterms.

“The NNPA has talked about the vote, and there is no better time for us to show our
power,” NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards stated during the announcement at the
national convention in the Big Easy.
“Let us take the lead and not be on the tail-end so we can show the present-day
power of the Black Press,” continued Richards, who publishes the Houston Forward
Times.

“This is a great opportunity for us; we’ve got to make this happen.” Attorney Barbara
Arnwine, the founder, and president of the Transformative Justice Coalition, and her
board chair and fellow lawyer Daryl Jones, told a captivated panel that their
organization had recorded 72 voter suppression tactics to prevent a large population
from casting ballots.

Among them are strict voter laws in many Republican-led states, deceptive practices
like robocalls; early voting cuts; and voter intimidation.
“Black voters did our share in 2020,” Arnwine remarked.

“Ninety-three percent of all eligible Black voters registered in Georgia. Yet, in the
2021 Georgia Senate run-off, 93 percent of all registered Black voters turned out.
That’s why people don’t understand where the real power is.”

Along with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., Richards, NNPA
Executive Board members Janis Ware, Fran Farrer, Cheryl Smith, and Jackie
Hampton, Arnwine and Jones announced that the groups would utilize a multivehicle
“votercade” to get out the vote.

They said individuals riding in new and COVID-safe tour buses would hit swing
states ahead of the November elections to register and mobilize GOTV for 10 million
new Black voters.

Chavis said artists from Roc Nation, the company run by hip-hop magnate and
business mogul Jay-Z, would accompany the votercade in some cities.
Music superstar Stephanie Mills also pledged to “get on the bus with the Black Press
and the Transformative Justice Coalition.”

Chavis said he’s convinced other celebrities will also join the national GOTV
campaign.

“The first form of voter suppression is self-suppression,” Dr. Chavis asserted.
“This last primary election showed that some of us were keeping ourselves from
voting. There are 55 million unregistered Americans eligible to vote, and 10 million are
African Americans,” Chavis continued.

“What if those 10 million were registered? We wouldn’t have worried about Donald
Trump or the craziness of what the U.S. Supreme Court is doing now. Elections have
consequences. The overturned Roe v. Wade, the overturned gun laws are
consequences of elections.”

With more than 235 African American-owned newspapers and media companies
serving as members, the NNPA represents the Black Press of America.
The Transformative Justice Coalition’s mission includes the systematic change that
achieves racial justice, gender, economic and social justice, and human rights through
public education and engagement initiatives that attend equally to hearts and minds as
well as the social systems and structure in which they exist.
Further, the coalition dedicates itself to informed civic engagement and equal voting
rights for everyone.

They use a voting rights map of shame to inform the public of threats to America’s
democracy, how to protect their voting rights, and steps to take to ensure the ability to
cast a ballot and make sure it’s counted.

The organization also seeks the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons.
“[Anti-voting rights organizations and individuals] have trained 10,000 people to be
poll disruptors to go to only Black polling sites,” Arnwine declared.

“They’re not sending them to white polling sites, and if you watched the [Jan. 6]
hearings, this is a concentrated effort to disempower Black voters,” she stated.
According to Davis, more than 18 million people are eligible to vote but don’t know
it.

“They are the felony disenfranchised,” Davis insisted.
“They are confused. It’s intentionally done in various states. For example, in some
states, you never lose your right to vote, and in some states, you can run for office if
you’re incarcerated,” he explained.

The votercade would help educate voters and explain what’s legal, among other
things. “We’re calling on all 235 NNPA members,” Dr. Chavis encouraged.
“That call and response from our brothers and sisters are vital. It’s movement time, it
is time Get-Out-The-Vote” he declared further.

“With the Transformative Justice Coalition, the NNPA will help move our people
forward to get out this vote. In 2022, we will make the critical difference in the
midterm elections in terms of increasing Black voter participation throughout the
country.”

Watch the announcement here.

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