BLACK CHURCHES USE KING'S LEGACY IN VOTER DRIVE POLITICS: L.A. EFFORT SEEKS TO REGISTER THOUSANDS BY FEB. 5.Byline: Brandon Lowrey
As Bishop Henry Williamson Henry Williamson (December 1, 1895 - August 13, 1977), prolific English author known for his natural and social history novels. Biography
Henry Williamson was born in Brockley, southeast London and attended Colfe's School. praised Martin Luther King Jr. from the pulpit of one of Los Angeles' oldest black churches Sunday, ushers passed out fliers reading "Register & Vote For King."
"Keep the dream alive," Williamson exhorted the congregation at Phillips Temple Christian Temple Christian can refer to:
"When you register to vote, you keep the dream what?"
In unison, the congregation answered: "Alive."
Phillips Temple is one of more than 50 Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. churches drawing on King's legacy of political change and urging members to register in a bid to enlist tens of thousands of voters by the end of the drive this Sunday.
King was instrumental in getting the Voting Rights Act Voting Rights Act
Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1965 to ensure the voting rights of African Americans. Though the Constitution's 15th Amendment (passed 1870) had guaranteed the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” of 1965 passed by Congress, in large part doing away with Jim Crow laws Jim Crow laws, in U.S. history, statutes enacted by Southern states and municipalities, beginning in the 1880s, that legalized segregation between blacks and whites. The name is believed to be derived from a character in a popular minstrel song. that had disenfranchised black voters in several Southern states Southern States
government of 11 Southern states that left the Union in 1860. [Am. Hist.: EB, III: 73]
popular name for Southern states in U.S. and for song. [Am. Hist. .
The weeklong voter drive by the churches coincides with King's birthday -- he would have been 79 today -- and also is designed as a practical strategy to make as many residents eligible to vote in the Feb. 5 primary as possible.
The last day citizens can send in their voter registration Voter registration is the requirement in some democracies for citizens to check in with some central registry before being allowed to vote in elections. An effort to get people to register is known as a voter registration drive. Centralized/compulsory vs. forms and be eligible to vote in the primary election is Jan. 22.
On Sunday, officials of Phillips Temple and other churches gave members extra forms to circulate in their neighborhoods, even handing out absentee-ballot forms that could be delivered to homebound home·bound
Restricted or confined to home, as of an invalid. seniors.
This isn't the first time the 50 churches -- which collectively have an estimated 75,000 members -- have been involved in voter-registration drives. In Los Angeles' last mayoral election, many community organizations rallied voters from the church pews.
The turnout helped put Antonio Villaraigosa Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa (born Antonio (Tony) Ramon Villar, Jr. on January 23, 1953) is the mayor of Los Angeles, California. He is the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since Cristobal Aguilar in 1872. at the helm of the city.
But this effort is the first time the churches themselves have led the effort, said the Rev. Kwesi Kamau, pastor of Amos Memorial CME CME
See: Chicago Mercantile Exchange
See Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Church in Los Angeles.
During the service, a box of green-and-white forms waited on a desk in the church's narrow lobby, sandwiched between two doors -- one marked, "enter to worship," the other, "depart to serve."
The church's voter registration literature is titled "God's Plan for Registration" and reads: "When God's people are counted, it means something. God gets glory through the numbers."
Spirituality and politics have long been intertwined in black churches.
"The black church has been a center of political and social organization throughout the history of black people on this continent," said Ruth Wilson This article is about the accused Soviet spy. For the actress, see Ruth Wilson (actress).
Ruth Beverly Wilson was married to Jacob Epstein. Epstein had been wounded in the Spanish Civil War after he volunteered for the International Brigades. Gilmore, chairwoman of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California The U.S. News & World Report ranked USC 27th among all universities in the United States in its 2008 ranking of "America's Best Colleges", also designating it as one of the "most selective universities" for admitting 8,634 of the almost 34,000 who applied for freshman admission .
"Certainly, during the long, long, long era of Jim Crow, it was in churches people could carry out organizing that would have been forbidden (in public)."
In fact, church voter drives in Los Angeles speak to the active involvement of blacks in local elections, at least compared with other ethnic groups.
Los Angeles County blacks make up about 9percent of the population but accounted for about 12percent of its registered voters in 2004, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures and expert estimates.
Nationwide, more than 14million of the roughly 16million black registered voters cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election, according to census figures.
In California, nearly 1.1million of the 1.2million blacks registered to vote cast their ballots.
Ninety percent of black voters register Democrat.
"That's one of the misconceptions, that blacks don't vote," said Melina Abdullah, a political science and sociology professor at California State University, Los Angeles California State University, Los Angeles (also known as Cal State L.A., CSULA, or "'CSLA"') is a public university, part of the California State University system. .
"There's a very active get-out-the-vote movement in Southern California (African-American communities)."
Celebrating King's ideals
At Phillips Temple CME Church, members of the clergy and congregation alike celebrated King's ideals -- most notably his nonviolent engagement of the political system and universal sense of humanity.
"He was a person who stood for the rights of all humanity," said Cobina Neal, 67, of Los Angeles.
Along with many other church members, Neal said she hopes the next presidential administration ends the war in Iraq and focuses on some important domestic issues -- foreclosures, education, health care and prison recidivism recidivism: see criminology. .
"This election is very important to our country," said Neal, who has attended Phillips Temple CME for most of her life.
"We have seen what the present administration has done to this country. Period. Look around."
Church member Terrence Lowe, 16, said he's already looking forward to registering to vote. The Norwalk teen said he plans to join the Democratic Party.
As for the people he knows who don't share his enthusiasm to go to the polls, Lowe blames a sometimes inaccessible political process.
"A lot of people, they don't trust the system," Lowe said. "They think their votes don't make a difference. Maybe our next president can help get that trust back into the system."
The upcoming federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. isn't a day for barbecues and rest, Bishop Williamson said -- that would be a slap in the face to those who fought for the right to vote.
Rather, it's a day to work for change.
"He was not a pacifist, but a prophet," Williamson said. "Don't let them make him a little old flower child. He was a warrior. He was a fighter."
The congregation punctuated Williamson's more forceful points: "Yes," "Mmhmmm," "Amen."
Williamson said that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, "please don't let your children sleep.
"He died for them."
REGISTER TO VOTE
Eligible voters can register by mail or at most L.A. County buildings, fire stations, libraries, state motor vehicle offices and U.S. post offices. For information, call 800-481-VOTE or go to lavote.net.
Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his famous speech, Aug. 28, 1963, in Washington, D.C.
REGISTER TO VOTE (see text)