Faith leaders urge Black Arkansans to vote, be informed
A coalition of Black churches in central Arkansas is forming to help boost voter turnout this election cycle.
Representatives from fraternities, sororities and local congregations met Monday to announce the initiative, called “Get Fired Up: Meet Us At The Polls.”
Phillip L. Pointer Sr., senior pastor of Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, says he and other religious leaders have a duty to ensure community members are informed and empowered to vote in their best interest.
“Every election is critical. Matters for those on the margins of society are decided by who we choose to represent us and by the ballot measures that we vote in favor of or against,” Pointer said. “We believe, as persons of faith, that you cannot be spiritual if you’re not also social.”
Pointer says the initiative is strictly nonpartisan, and seeks to inform voters of candidates and measures on the November ballot. Senior Pastor Maurice Watson of Little Rock’s Second Baptist Church says faith and political advocacy have a long history in Black communities.
“The Black church has historically been an epicenter of promoting civil rights and promoting social justice, of helping to lead people to bettering our communities. And one of the ways we do that is by voting,” Watson said.
Pastor Dwight Townsend of Longley Baptist Church in Little Rock says the goal is not to advocate for any specific political parties or movements, but rather to ensure all voters can make an informed choice.
“As it relates to redistricting, those maps that have been redrawn can be confusing to our community. And if we’re not engaged and informed, they can hurt us… we need to be informed so that we can make an intelligent decision,” Townsend said.
The group plans to hold an event at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, followed by a march to the early voting site at the nearby McMath Library. Also participating will be representatives from the National Urban League , local chapters of Kappa Alpha Psi and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities and chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta sororities.
More information is available at the Saint Mark Baptist Church website.