PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Glenwood Community Center had a massive turnout for early voting thanks to the efforts of an organization called “Black Voters Matter.”
As one of the event sponsors, “Black Voters Matter” hopes to encourage the black community to come out and vote, and on Sunday, a lot of them did.
“We’ve had people outside the community area to come here and vote because they want the supervisor of elections to understand this is a crucial and important voting site,” said Beverly Wall, “Souls to the Poll’s promoter and partner with “Black Voters Matter”
“We just hear today to help spread some black love, black joy, and help people get out to vote, ” said Jamil Davis, North Florida Regional Organizer for Black Voters Matter.
Davis said he’s been involved with community organizing since 2011 and with “Black Voters Matter” since May 2020.
He said the organization had it’s first victory when they helped the people in Alabama galvanize and mobilize the vote between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.
“From what I understand, the numbers for just that Senate election alone were almost Obama like numbers,” Davis said.
The result of this runoff was a big one as it filled a Senate seat in Alabama with a Democrat — a state that has a history of voting Republican.
Wall said statistics from the 2016 election showed a low turnout of black voters compared to when President Obama ran.
“We want to deliver the message that all elections are important and that for us to have a voice at what happens in America, we have to get out and vote,” Wall said.
“Within the 2016 election, I think a lot of people had voter apathy,” Davis said. “There wasn’t as much of a public figure on either side that gave you the same type of hope as President Obama did.”
Davis said the turnout was especially low within the youth demographic, ages 18 to 30.
“But I’m happy to say, within the last couple of weeks, just off of early voting numbers alone, it’s been almost close to a four to six hundred percent increase,” Davis said.
Wall said the decisions that the candidates make will not only affect the country, they will also affect our local community.
“Because individuals that go into a particular office, they’re making decisions about us and about our community. And if we don’t go out and vote, we don’t get to voice our opinions in what we want to say.
Wall wants her community to remember how far our country has come in giving blacks the right to vote.
“We had a lot of people in our history die for us to have this opportunity to vote,” Wall said. “Make a plan if you haven’t, get out and vote.”
Davis said it’s important to remember that the work doesn’t stop after the election ends.
“Once the election is over with, lets come back in and lets strategize to hold these candidates accountable for the promises that they made to our people within our communities as far as what it is that we care about as far as the issues that we are concerned with,” Davis said.