Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

PLATFORM : Black Empowerment

October 09, 1994

The Rev. J. BENJAMIN HARDWICK, pastor at Praises of Zion Baptist Church in Los Angeles and the chairman of the African American Ecumenical Coalition for Voters, talks about why clergy members and political leaders are sponsoring a three-day voter-registration drive that ends today. Today's event is hosted by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Walter Fauntroy and will be broadcast live on radio station KGFJ-AM , 1230 , in Los Angeles.

At one time, African Americans were considered just three-fifths of a person. Then we were denied the right to vote. Next we were threatened to stay away from the polls. Now it seems we are taking our own vote for granted. Low voter turnout among African Americans is becoming commonplace. In California's 1994 primary election, the turnout in the African American community was as low as 15% in some areas.

By not voting, African Americans are fast becoming a silent minority. In failing to participate in the political process, we are failing our community and we are failing future generations of African Americans.

We must not allow ourselves to become obsolete players to those who control the power in this state. Drugs, guns, unemployment, undereducation, inaccessible health services and poor housing have worked in tandem to destroy us. It is imperative that we speak for ourselves. It is the person who votes who makes sure that the system works for him or her.

The church in the African American community has the ability to initiate as well as sustain this mission of bringing African Americans back into the voting process. The community leaders recognize the value of partnering with legislative leaders, community organizations and youth groups to bring healing to the community.

This is not about politics, it's about survival. This wake-up call is in response to a crisis in leadership and an acknowledgment that the resources needed are already in the storehouse but have not made it to our shelves. The time has come for reviving our community.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|