Our vote is our power

Trevor Mallory is the president of the Pinellas County Democratic Black Caucus and Outreach Chair of the Pinellas Democratic Party.

BY TREVOR MALLORY, Contributor 

PINELLAS COUNTY – African Americans are a large and critical voting bloc in Pinellas County, as in most of the nation. But many African Americans are disconnected from the democratic process and do not see the importance of voting. 

There are good reasons for this: the democratic process has historically failed African-American voters and communities. Politicians we supported have often failed to live up to their promises. Because of this and because of their shameful treatment throughout the history of this nation, black people are often understandably suspicious about the democratic process and politicians.

But we have to remember this – as individuals, we can have fears and doubts. As a group of voters, WE ARE POWERFUL. 

We spoke with a voter at his door – we’ll call him “D” for the purpose of this article —  who doubted that his vote made a difference or that the system could be fair. He told us the issues that worry him and his family, such as affordable housing, education, criminal justice reform, among others. 

We told D about the volunteers like us who are making contact with voters, the many neighborhood and community groups, and the candidates who are working so hard to make a difference on these issues. 

For D and voters like him, we are holding a special community event, an update about our election year activities in a family-friendly gathering. It’s called St. Pete United for 2020 and will happen Saturday, March 7 from 10-12 p.m. at the Enoch Davis Recreation Center, 1111 18th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. 

A light breakfast will be served, and we will have art activities for kids, local speakers and voter registration assistance. It is sponsored by the Pinellas Democratic Party District 70 (south St. Pete) and the South St. Petersburg Democratic Club.

D will bring his family to hear about how we can all come together to vote and to get involved. To reserve your place, TEXT 727-412-1541 or email ed.stevens@pinellasdemocrats.com.

We are fortunate to have an exceptionally qualified group of African-American candidates running for local and state offices, including County Commissioner, State Representative for District 70 and the School Board. (You can find out about them at the votepinellas.com/2020Candidates).

Some offices have more than one or even several African-American candidates running so that we have a real choice out of the well-qualified candidates. 

On the presidential level, Florida voters will cast their ballots for their choice of the Democratic candidate on March 17. Among the candidates still running, people have their favorites, and many will be disappointed if their candidate is not nominated.  But to win the presidential election and elect the best candidates on the local and state level, we must overcome our differences and come together. 

At NAACP’s 2020 Emancipation Proclamation Service on New Year’s Day at the Historic Bethel AME Church, Rev. Jana-Hall Perkins spoke about “the deception of division.” 

Revered Perkins, senior pastor of McCabe United Methodist Church, spoke about how we let disagreements keep us from coming together as a powerful, united voice. Some of our adversaries count on this and attempt to sow discord through misinformation, exaggeration of our disagreements and social media. 

We cannot let our differences or the manipulations of others divide us, for as a group of voters, WE ARE POWERFUL. 

President Barack Obama said, “Our strength comes from unity and not division.” We must use our unity to assert our power in the voting booth and we must enlist our families, friends and neighbors.

March 17 is the Florida Presidential Preference Primary, and Aug. 18 is the Primary Election for local and state offices.

Trevor Mallory is the president of the Pinellas County Democratic Black Caucus and Outreach Chair of the Pinellas Democratic Party.

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