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Black-led Michigan organizations celebrate historic Black Voter Mobilization

Eboni Taylor, Executive Director for Mothering Justice of Michigan

Black-led Michigan organizations celebrate historic Black Voter Mobilization

Michigan broke 2008 voter turnout record thanks to their groundwork

Last week, people across the nation rejoiced that a president with racist, xenophobic, and fascist tendencies was ousted and Joe Biden was announced as President-Elect, with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. Without the work of Black-led grassroots organizations, Biden would not have reached the critical threshold of votes he needed to flip the state.

In Michigan, Black-led organizations such as Detroit Action, MOSES, Mothering Justice, Michigan United, and Michigan Liberation worked to flip the once red state of Michigan blue. “Black women voters in Michigan turned out more than any other demographic and voted on the issues important to Black folks - fair wages, affordable childcare, maternal justice and to let the Trump administration know their neglect on these issues would no longer be tolerated”  Eboni Taylor, Executive Director for Mothering Justice of Michigan.

“This election wasn’t just about supporting Biden/Harris vs. Trump/Pence. It was also about articulating a compelling vision for what Black and Brown communities in Michigan could look like. The win last Tuesday was a result of Black-Led organizing and our collective effort in increasing the number of Black voters by 86,000 in Wayne County specifically,” said Branden Snyder, Executive Director of Detroit Action.

In a normal year, traditional voter outreach groups would have relied on traditional techniques such as in-person canvassing and door-knocking to reach Detroiters. “At Michigan United, we utilized a digital organizing tool to reach out to voters with whom we had personal connections. Over 800 of our volunteers used this tool to make sure their friends and family voted. This approach allowed us to reach over 55,000 voters across the state,” said Ken Whitaker, Director of Movement Politics at Michigan United. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected upwards of 200,000 Detroiters forced these grassroots organizations to embrace innovation in more ways than one. Combatting a pandemic that disproportionately affected Black Michiganders forced them to drastically shift their outreach efforts to social media, mail pieces, volunteer and paid canvassing programs, and digital organizing, these organizations showed up for the city in unimaginable ways.

Public health was a big issue for our work in engaging Black voters, particularly in driving the message for an investment in public health infrastructure and access for Black families,” Ponsella Hardaway, Executive Director of MOSES. “Because of the pandemic, we utilized innovative ways to build relationships with Black voters.  Digital organizing, social media organizing were just two of the ways we had to adjust and it worked.”

“We won on Election Day in part because we reached out to our people way before election day and during this Covid crisis,” said Elishiva Johnson, Co-Executive Director of Michigan Liberation. “The relationships we built were foundational in then moving Black voters to the polls on the issues affecting Black Michiganders.”

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