In an effort to invigorate the black vote, the Lake County Democratic Party Black Caucus hosted a forum Saturday to get blacks to the polls in November.
Entitled “Lift Every Voice!” the forum at the Tavares Community Center included black elected officials, Orlando’s first black police chief, Supervisor of Elections officials and mostly black clergymen.
Discussions focused on voter registration, mobilization and overall enthusiasm in the black community.
“Hopefully we can educate about the power our votes carries,” said Kenneth Williams, of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church of Eustis.
Even after voting rights laws were passed, forum officials said Saturday that voter apathy has long been an issue in the black community. Speakers were unclear why it remains a problem, but a long history of black disfranchisement and strict requirements such as ID cards at the polls were listed as some of the reasons.
“We have to make it clear to blacks that every vote counts,” said James Smith, a Groveland city councilman after the forum.
Blacks turned out in record numbers for the 2008 general election that saw the country elect its first black president, who ran on the slogan “Yes We Can.”
Officials at the forum criticized the Republican Party for dividing America and using President Barack Obama as a scapegoat for problems effecting the country.
“We need to help president fulfill his slogan,” said Williams.
Officials said there was a need to place more emphasis on reaching the elderly and the youth about voting — even if it takes going to schools or using rap music.
With at least five pastors on the forum’s panel, people in the audience suggested allowing voting registration at churches.
The pastors agreed.
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