GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) — A group in North Carolina has dedicated itself to bringing more people of color to the polls. Their goal is to create frequent, lifelong voters and not just in big elections
As a nonpartisan organization, the New North Carolina Project focuses on issues, not parties or candidates.
“Maybe we can’t agree on a party. Maybe we can’t agree on blue, red, independence, whatever else, but we can agree that we want our children to get a good education. We can agree that we want drinking water. We can agree that the police should not beat us,” said NNCP Organizing Director Kay Brown.
This group uses issues to unite people and encourage them to resolve those issues with their vote, especially communities of color.
“The New North Carolina Project is an organization founded to empower communities of color across the state of North Carolina, to ensure they are engaged in every election in our state and also to create voters for life” , said Aimy Steele, CEO of NNCP.
Although their goal is to make everyone a lifetime voter, communities of color are their main focus, because that’s where voter turnout is lowest.
The most recent U.S. Census voter turnout data shows that blacks, Hispanics and Asians registered and voted in fewer numbers than whites in 2020.
The number of voters in communities of color is even lower for local elections.
“That’s one of the things we do to engage people, especially small elections, and let them know that … you have to vote for the president. The fact that you don’t like that the school was closed down the street is actually your school board. Let’s talk about why the school board made this decision and invite you to this school board meeting to talk about it,” Brown said.
Empowering people to use elections to defend their communities takes a lot of work, not just during major election seasons.
“People don’t really care deeply about elections. They care about what is happening in their home and…the community outside. How does this affect them inside their homes. So we have to bring the issues to their front door from a political point of view, but also from a “we care about you” goal, Steele said. “What makes our organization unique is that we are present in the communities 365 days a year. We happen to have two elections that are mandated each year, a primary and a general. But in the meantime, we are working with other partner groups.
To help manage some of that workload, they have a diverse staff, a range of community partners, and contract canvassers who help them reach communities in at least 18 North Carolina counties.
It was by signing up to be one of these canvassers that Lisa McMillan became involved in local politics after spending most of her life away from them.
“I was not brought up in a politically active family. I was not engaged at school,” McMillan said. “Kay Brown offered this opportunity because she saw how passionate I was about addressing issues in predominantly colored communities.”
Stories like Lisa’s are the goal of Project New North Carolina: to take people disengaged from politics and activate and engage them.
“The way we look at it is that it’s not just about this election. This is every election, every time. And elections are a tactic that we use to move us forward as a people in this country with tools, resources, access to what we need,” Brown said.
Since they work on several elections and organize community events throughout the year, the NNCP is always looking for people to get involved. More information can be found here.
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