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Allison Joyner Contributors

Black Women’s History Month: LaTosha Brown

LaTosha Brown, co-founder, Black Voters Matter

The co-founder of Black Voters Matter has something to say about voter suppression and how you can make your voices heard.

By Allison Joyner

Political activist, LaTosha Brown, has been a force when it comes to registering people to vote. 

Last year, her organization, Black Voters Matter, registered thousands of new voters just in time for the November Presidential Election throughout the Southeast, including Georgia. 

She told SaportaReport that she and co-founder Cliff Albright don’t like how African Americans are portrayed in the national news and wanted to figure out a way to change the narrative.

With Brown and Albright working on political work that was not centered around a candidate or political party for over two decades, Black Voters Matter became what it is today in 2016 by increasing power in Black and Brown communities through voting in local, state and federal elections. 

Logo of Black Voters Matter. Courtesy of Black Voters Matter

“Part of our organization is really a greater work reminding us who we are as a people,” said Brown, “reminding us that we have power that can connect us with resources so we can actually put our vision into motion.”

On Thursday, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill making it law to require mail-in voters to include their driver’s license number or other documentation to verify their identities, restricting the number of mail-in ballot drop boxes and early voting locations and prohibiting people from giving food and water to voters waiting in line. 

One of the first organizations to address outrage over the bill, stating that it will make it harder for people of color to vote in future elections. Brown has taken this activism a step further by calling out Georgia-based corporations that were silent on the issue, asking for a boycott of several companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines.

“If you are a company that we work at, that we sit on your board, that we spend our money,” Brown said, “we expect that you will also recognize how critical voter suppression is and not just impacting our community but undermining democracy.”

Brown mentions that Coca-Cola holds tremendous influence by supporting elected officials, and last year made a commitment to bringing awareness to racial equality.

“Coca-Cola is one of the largest companies in the world,” Brown said, “[It has] a brand value of $74 billion.” She adds, “that’s larger than most countries on the planet.”

On Sunday, Coca-Cola responded to this issue and stated in a tweet:

We believe voting is a foundational right in America and access should be broad-based and inclusive.

Throughout the legislative session, we have been active with the Metro Atlanta Chamber in expressing our concerns and advocating for positive change in voting legislation. We, along with our business coalition partners, sought improvements that would enhance accessibility, maximize voter participation, maintain election integrity and serve all Georgians.

We will continue to identify opportunities for engagement and strive for improvements aimed at promoting and protecting the right to vote in our home state and elsewhere.

 

“We should expect these companies to hold the line around democracy,” said Brown, “and at the end of the day, they know all of this is predicated on a big lie that is another attempt to marginalize Black voters.”

But Brown says the fight is not over. Black Votes Matter will continue to build a base around the state to lift the importance of voting and engage people in voter registration and education. In 2020, they invested over $2 million to Black-led grassroots organizations all over the South. 

Brown still believes that Black people in the peach state believed in their power and were not deterred by voter suppression. Her organization will continue to lean into this culture and will engage with communities at events like Soul Santa and the Collard Green Caucus. 

 

 

Finally, Brown believes that everyone should find a political home and volunteer with an organization, educate others on their voting rights in their hometown, and contribute. 

“Whether it’s $5 or $5 million to an organization,” Brown said, “because it’s not about the money, it’s the energy behind the money and it’s literally saying that we the people are engaged and plugged in a different way. And we know that.”

To find out more about what Black Voters Matter is doing in Georgia, log onto their website

 

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