CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Black Church Action Fund founded in 2017 is on a mission to reach African American voters this election season. The organization has created a Souls to the Polls bus to help voters navigate the polls and handle voting irregularities or voter intimidation.
The group has partnered with several churches to help with this assignment. The Park Church in Charlotte is helping.
The Soul to the Polls bus came to the church Tuesday morning. The Park Church volunteers greeted the bus ready to help in the mission.
“Black churches have always been about the whole life of the community,” The Park Church Pastor Bishop Claude Alexander, Jr said. “And there is nothing more important for us than to be involved in voting - to make sure we are able to exercise our self-determination by way of voting to make sure our vote is free, fair, and safe.”
The bus started its journey Saturday and will continue until election day on November 3rd. It will travel to South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Before hitting the road, the organization connected with people virtually through texts, phone banks, and digital workshops. The goal is to engage with one million people.
“We have surpassed that,” Co-Founder of Black Church Action Fund Pastor Michael McBride said. “With partnerships with the Churches of God in Christ, The AME Church, churches like The Park Church, and many others. We are up to two million folks that we have been able to connect with and touch and hopefully turn out to the polls.”
McBride says the organization had to give voters advice on how to survive the polls.
“We have had to help people develop plans,” McBride said. “Develop security plans, not go to vote alone. We have had to teach people about not being dissuaded from getting out of polling place - out of the line - folks have had to stay in line for hours at a time.”
During this pandemic, voters will receive a voter care package at the bus stops. It includes a face mask, a T-shirt, information on how to report trouble at the polls, and information about early voting. Ministers believe church members must vote.
“The price of voting has been a high price to pay,” Black Church Action Fund State Director Pastor Barrett Berry said. “It is our responsibility. It’s our civic responsibility - I almost want to say it’s our Christian responsibility to continue the cultural norm of voting.”
Leaders say voters should not get tired and continue to rock the vote.
“Everything that impacts your life is tied to the vote,” Alexander said. “If you are worried about your healthcare - it’s tied to the vote. Worried about your community and your schools it’s tied to the vote. We have to fight against that malaise and despair with hope, and the ability to vision and dream for a better tomorrow.”
North Carolina is a state many politicians are interested in, that’s one reason why the bus came to the Tar Heel state.
Leaders say they are not telling voters who to vote for, they just want them to go to the polls.
“The most important thing is to vote,” Berry said. “I think it is imperative for all Americans to vote and sometimes we need to encourage others.”
The bus tour will end on Nov. 3 in Florida. For more information click here