By Donnell Suggs | Atlanta Voice | Word In Black
(WIB) – There are numerous Black candidates running for statewide offices and on the ballot in these midterm elections. And there will be millions of Black Georgians voting, either during the early voting period or on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8. That said, how many of those voters will be Black men, in particular, is a question on the mind of the candidates, their supporters and local Black grassroots organizations.
Garnering the Black male vote has always been a discussion, but lately it has been a hot-button topic for Black candidates like Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and sitting Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock. Can either rally the Black male vote in order to rule secure positive results next month?
According to data provided by the Secretary of State’s Office, there are 7 million active voters in Georgia as of December 2021. Of these 7 million just over 2 million are Black. There is very little data available to pinpoint how many of those 2 million Black voters are male. A drumbeat is sounding for more Black male voters to make their way to the polls and grassroots organizations like Street Groomers and more established politically invested organizations like the Georgia NAACP marched to further drum up interest Saturday afternoon.
“This is a march, it is not a parade,” said L.A. Pink, President of Street Groomers, during the Black Man March which took place downtown Saturday, Oct. 1. Dozens of supporters for causes ranging from police violence to voter’s rights got behind a pair of banners and made their way up Capitol Avenue. “We want to display the power and the change when we step into the streets.”
Georgia NAACP President and attorney Gerald A. Griggs and Fulton County Commissioners for District 6 Khadijah Abdur-Rahman were involved in the march from outset and spoke of the importance of the Black Male vote.
“There is a concerted effort to silence your voice, you better believe it,” said Abdul-Rahman to the crowd inside Freedom Plaza across Capitol Avenue from the State Capitol. “And in order to silence your voice they have to be worried that your voice is strong. They have to be worried that you represent something, because if you didn’t represent something nobody would be trying to silence you.”
Rahman went on to say, “Don’t believe the hype that tries to divide us.”
Griggs waved a large ‘Black Lives Matter’ flag throughout the march. He told The Atlanta Voice that there are many issues of interest to Black male voters and some of those issues were being represented during the march. “A lot of candidates are talking about the Black male vote, well we’re bringing it to the place where the laws are made.”
The march began on the corner of Ralph David Abernathy and Hank Aaron Drive. The Fred Hampton Gun Club provided security as the group of men, women and children made its way to the front gates of the capitol building.
“Extremely important,” is how Griggs described the need for the Black male vote to be represented during the coming elections. “If their issues are not addressed in this election, it will be increasingly difficult to get Black men to turn out in the 2024 cycle.”
Griggs listed police accountability, criminal justice reform, voting rights, income equality and healthcare disparities as issues concerning Black males and their families in Georgia. With Atlanta Medical Center set to close in a few weeks in the heart of one of Atlanta’s last historic Black downtown neighborhoods, healthcare disparity remains a hot topic.
Abrams has been on record saying that if she gets a strong turnout of Black male voters she believes she can win her election against Governor Brian Kemp. The Black male may never be in as high in demand as it is now.
“We are looking to take this march from state to state,” said Brother Stone, co-founder, Street Groomers. “These politicians want to ask for your vote and then once they get in office they stick to party lines. If we can stretch this message we can do a lot to change things.”
In 2018 Abrams lost the election to Kemp by 54,723 votes (1,978,408 to 1,923,685) with just over 37,235 additional votes going to Libertarian candidate Ted Metz. It was a close race. It can be closer with a massive turnout by the Black male vote.
“Show them what community looks like,” screamed Porch’se Miller through a megaphone. Miller, an activist with the Georgia NAACP, rode in the back of a white van during the march towards the capitol. “This is what community looks like,” she screamed. “Black votes, they matter here.”
A father of four pushed his youngest child in a stroller during the march. Nicknamed “Manifest,” the father wanted to make sure his kids got the opportunity to be part of a peaceful march. “These are the examples of the people I want my kids to see and hear,” he said. “I think it’s amazing to be able to stand in your identity and let people know why we are here.
“At this point it’s about action, the right way.”