A grassroots Birmingham organization is launching a new initiative targeting infrequent voters called the (Re) Vote Black Church Community Voter Project and has announced the project’s first round of Fellows.
“Historically, the church served as a hub, and we believe it’s important to get back to those roots in order to build stronger communities,” said Cara McClure, founder of Faith and Works, a Birmingham organization with a mission of bringing voting power to disenfranchised communities. “(Re) Vote Black Church Community Voter Project’s most important goals are to organize and help rebuild the relationship between the church and the community. We can rebuild our political muscle when community activists and faith leaders work together to increase voter engagement, education and participation.”
The project will conduct non-traditional outreach efforts to meet non-registered and low propensity voters where they are. McClure said the project is modeled after Jesus’s approach to evangelism.
“Jesus always met the needs of the people before charging them with growing the mission,” McClure said.
Organizers believe a served community will be “an empowered to serve community” and look to this crusade as a solution to apathy and low voter engagement.
The goal is to create a minimum of 300 social and civic action ministries across Alabama by 2026 and equip and empower the communities to set their own agendas based on their communities’ needs. Additionally, the goal is also to mass engage a minimum of 20 percent of the population in Jefferson and Madison counties.
The project will create the (Re) Vote Black Church Community Network, a fellowship opportunity to help create and cultivate intentional engagement and relationship building between the Black church and the community to increase voter turnout and provide civic and voter literacy. The goal is to encourage Black voters to vote in every election and to ensure the voters will be educated about voting choices and resources available at their local churches.
“Social justice isn’t an ancillary dimension of the gospel – it is essential to it,” said the Rev. Dexter Strong, curriculum specialist and trainer for the project. “Good News that Jesus preached to the world is that God is disrupting systems of injustice and deprivation to restore the eternal reign of love and compassion. It is what the Bible calls the Kingdom of God, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called the ‘beloved community.’ This confession has political, not partisan, but political consequences. As a political professional and clergy person, I’m excited to help activists and pastors better understand how their potential collaboration could transform our societies for the better.”
Project Manager Uche Bean said that faith has been a steadying force for Black people throughout many tribulations.
“Faith has been the one thing that us as Black folks have been able to hold to, in spite of being enslaved, Jim Crow, racial terror, white supremacy, and the structures and institutions in place that continue to marginalize our communities and threaten true democracy like gerrymandering, redlining and voter suppression,” Bean said. “It is an honor to work towards the goal to eliminate voter apathy, engage voters who have been long oppressed or disengaged, and bridge the gap between community and church. Our faith is what keeps us going, and we will continue to fight because we have nothing to lose but our chains.”
(Re)Vote ) Supporter Dee Reed said the Bible provides countless examples of what is possible through partnership and collaboration.
“Nehemiah teams up with the people to rebuild; the widow woman’s act of faith alongside Elisha allows her to recover from the death of her husband, and the disciples’ response to Jesus’ call to service and ministry produces revival,” Reed said. “Through (Re)Vote’s commitment to connecting the Black church, community members, and activists, the collective will work collaboratively to restore hope and reenergize Black voters across the state of Alabama.”