“I don’t go to church, but I believe in doing the right thing,” said White. “I want to let people know that they are part of this, that their voices matter.”
Lesley Jones, organizing director of the AMOS project, a network of clergy and congregations working for social justice in Ohio, told RNS that Black faith leaders are driving the movement against Issue 1 in Cincinnati as they partner with other civil rights groups such as the NAACP and Black Voters Matter. In July, Jones said, more than 40 clergy and denominational leaders representing “thousands of people of faith” statewide joined a campaign kickoff call.
“I think our faith community is waking up to the fact that there are various attacks on our voting rights and our ability to let our voices be heard,” said Jones.
She added that many Black clergy and Black people of faith see Issue 1 as part of a broader strategy to “really attack voting rights and ultimately uphold white supremacy.” Jones pointed to similar attempts to restrict ballot measures in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and North Dakota.
On the eve of the election, Minor met with a small group of faith leaders and church members from the Greater Cleveland area, all volunteers gathered for a final canvassing push. Before heading out to walk along Broadway Avenue, a main thoroughfare in the Slavic Village neighborhood, the group circled together, holding hands and praying for God’s blessing. Then, the group took off, noticeable in their bright red shirts, handing out flyers and telling people at gas stations, grocery store parking lots and fast food joints about Tuesday’s election.
“I’m a vessel! Full of power! To vote!” the group shouted together. “Vote no on Issue 1!”
Between leading chants and stopping passersby, Minor explained that mobilizing voters for Tuesday’s election is preparation for next year’s 2024 presidential election. In taking to the streets, the Black faith community had already shown that it isn’t afraid to take action.
“It’s during these extreme times, and this is an extreme time, that it brings out the best of the African American prophetic tradition. We’re not deterred at all, but we are vigilant in our effort,” said Minor. “Winning is fighting back, and that’s what we are doing, so we have already won.”
This article originally appeared here.