“This is in direct contradiction to the work that we’re doing, that allows for where people are upset with their elected officials, to go to the ballots themselves and put things on a ballot and allow people to vote for it,” said Greene. “As a faith person, as a former pastor, as a leader in a community, my No. 1 job is to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. And this will directly contradict that.”
An Akron native, Greene served as pastor of the city’s St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church before becoming full-time executive director of The Freedom Bloc, a nonpartisan, Black-led group that fosters civil engagement throughout Ohio. Though the group isn’t religious, it regularly partners with local churches.
Greene said his political activism is about building the kingdom of God on earth, rather than focusing exclusively on the kingdom of heaven. On Issue 1, that’s meant hiring over 30 canvassers from Akron to knock on more than 90,000 doors to make sure their neighbors know about the ballot initiative.
On Monday morning, Aisha White, a longtime Freedom Bloc team member, met with around a dozen other canvassers wearing black shirts inscribed with “Black Voting Matters” and “Voting is Savage” at the Freedom Bloc headquarters in Akron. The cool, damp morning was good canvassing weather, according to White, who, with the vote a day away, was pulling both a morning and afternoon shift.
“Yesterday, we knocked on the door of a man who said he was a Christian. And we was like, well, we are too. And then he went straight into abortion. And so we were telling him that this is not about abortion, this is about our rights to make a change in our community,” said White. “It was very important that we broke that down for him, letting him know that we’re just trying to keep it at 50%, one person, one vote.”
On Monday, she headed to East Akron with fellow canvasser Jason Lee, handing out literature on Issue 1 and asking residents if they would be voting. Each of them aimed to hit over 100 doors by evening. While most people didn’t answer — and at least twice, the canvassers were met with unleashed dogs — in a few hours, they said, they had connected with a handful of voters who hadn’t heard of Issue 1.