November’s midterm elections aren’t the only thing quickly rolling around the corner. As an effort to reach minority voters across the country, a huge Black Voters Matter tour bus is rolling through various cities to galvanize the community, with its most recent stop being Philadelphia this past Saturday.
According to local news radio station, KYW, the tour bus became the anchor of a community health fair and block party, and shut down portions of the city’s North Broad Street.
Pennsylvania state organizing manager of Black Voters Matter, Kallel Edwards is touring the country to get Black and brown voters to understand the power of the vote. Edwards believes that a great way to do so is to frame the conversation around health care issues.
“It’s hard to have conversations with folks about hope, voting, and why we should vote when they’re dealing with this much trauma and disparity inside neighborhoods,” said Edwards.
Edwards also mentioned that the Black community needs to pay attention to a few key topics including; abortion, gun control, health care and education, mostly because of their everyday impact within communities of color. But there is one issue that the organizing manager says stands out among the rest.
“Voter rights for me,” said Edwards. “They come up with laws every day to keep us out of voting polls and make it hard for us to vote, and that’s because we’re actually making a difference.”
Edwards believes that there is also a direct tie between access to community services, and voter turnout.
“Their elected officials actually know that their constituents can hold them accountable,” said Edwards.
Elyahmen Buford, Jr. who works on the national logistics team says that the goal is not to just get people to the polls, but to inspire them to get involved beyond just that.
“I watched kids come up to us and tell us that they were afraid to discuss the issues that were happening in their communities, because they felt like no one was listening and they felt like those who are listening are not going to help,” said Buford.
“We are here to literally reassure them that there are people out there, and here’s how you get connected to them.”
He also emphasized the importance of being informed when it comes to the process and the candidates.
“We are beyond just doing voting,” said Buford. “We focus on voter suppression, getting people out to the polls, mainly educating them on their local politics.”
Edwards know just what’s at stake:
“Everything,” he said. “With so many rights being snatched from so many different states, the whole country has eyes on Pennsylvania, [with it] being a swing state.”
Organizers are also encouraging voters to double check their registration information, their polling place location, and to create a plan to get there ahead of time.