BET, The National Urban League, and other civil rights organizations have joined together to host the first-ever National Black Voter Day.
National Black Voter Day takes place today, Friday, Sept. 18, and all organizations tied to the effort will seek to aid Black citizens against suppression tactics ensuring their vote counts in the various elections taking place in November.
“The final stretch is always the most important part of any race, and with just 100 days until Election Day, there’s no time like the present for BET to go ‘all in’ with National Black Voter Day,” BET Networks President Scott Mills said in a statement. “We are rallying all the resources and relationships we have to mitigate the undeniable efforts being made to disenfranchise the African American community, a voting bloc ubiquitously understood to influence elections. We will use the current momentum of the fight against systemic racism to galvanize those marching in protest to march to the polls in November.”
With the help of the National Urban League (NUL), National Black Voter Day will break down the necessary steps to make Black voices heard, including securing and checking voter registration, making a voting plan, and encouraging friends and family to vote.
NUL President Marc Morial said teaming up with the biggest name in Black television and civil rights groups will ensure the organization reaches as many Black voters as possible.
“We will be launching a grassroots effort in probably about a dozen cities to put people in the communities on the ground, using everything from canvassing to organizing, to door-to-door leaf footing, and social media to register, educate and mobilize people to vote,” Morial told BET.com, adding his organization will use BET’s social media accounts to amplify the effort and educate voters.
Other organizations involved in the effort include the NAACP, Color of Change, When We All Vote, Black Voters Matter, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Collective PAC, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Election Protection, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and The National Action Network.
One of the biggest reasons for the effort is voter suppression. Concerns about voter suppression, particularly in the Black community, have been a widely debated topic since a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited certain states and localities from making changes to voting laws without obtaining federal approval or “preclearance.”
Many pointed to voter suppression when Stacey Abrams lost to Brian Kemp in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election.
In addition to voter suppression, the coronavirus has lead to less voting precincts, which must institute social distancing requirements with fewer poll workers and machines.
Voting lines are of particular concern for Morial, who called them “an orchestrated effort to suppress the vote to make it more difficult for Black people to vote.” In order to fight this Morial feels voters should have all the information necessary about their state’s mail-in ballot and early voting options.
BET has also lined up multiple stars to produce voting PSAs to be distributed on BET’s platforms, those of its sister channels MTV, VH1, and Comedy Central and of media partners including The Root, The Skimm, Entertainment Tonight, Bounce, and Black Enterprise.
Stars that are taking part also include Twenties actor Jonica T. Gibbs, Tyler Perry’s Sistas actor Mignon, Rhapsody, National Urban League CEO Marc H. Morial, Blavity Inc. founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun, and others. Sports stars including Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Udonis Haslem, and Dwane Casey and more are also participating.