When it comes to politics, money talks, and in 2012 — as the U.S.'s first Black president seeks re-election — its voice will be louder than ever. For the first time, independent groups known as super political action committees (PACs) can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support a favored presidential candidate — or massacre the opposition. But a new super PAC, called 1911 United, has a more altruistic goal: raising $1.5 million to mobilize African-American voters in key swing states to support President Obama.
According to Sinclair Skinner, the committee’s treasurer, the role that African-American voters played in helping to elect the nation’s first Black president is cause for celebration, but should also be a huge motivation for them to be more engaged in the political process than ever before. Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi, two historically Black fraternities that celebrated their centennials in 2011, formed the PAC in December. They plan to organize and deploy volunteers in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, but by law cannot coordinate with Obama 2012.
“We don’t want people to think they did their thing in 2008 and they’re done. We want to make sure they’re active and coming back. There’s no question of them voting for a Republican, but will they come out in 2012?” Skinner says, adding that apathy is the greatest threat to Obama’s re-election and Black political engagement.
The goal is to recruit 10,000 volunteers who can help organize at least 100 people, including newly registered voters and those who cast ballots for the first time in 2008. The group is starting early by sending volunteers to campaign for Obama in New Hampshire, before that state’s presidential primary on Jan. 10.
“African-Americans need to be involved from day one. Campaigns are about more than [Election Day], it’s a process and our involvement is still evolving,” says Skinner, a civil engineer. “We want volunteers to give one day a month to support Obama, so they can have a say in how the campaign is run and how it ends up. Hopefully that engagement will carry on beyond the campaign.”
The committee has launched an online fundraising campaign on its website and plans to use online videos and various forms of social media to raise funds. The group also hopes to raise enough money to spread its word through broadcast media.
BET Politics - Your source for the latest news, photos and videos illuminating key issues and personalities in African-American political life, plus commentary from some of our liveliest voices.
(Photo: 1911 United)