Fifty years ago, Post Publisher Paul Cobb went South to join the fight for voter registration and engage in Civil Rights activity, taking a stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
He became director of the Southern Elections Fund (SEF), now headed by Ben Jealous, which has helped register Black voters and support candidates to run for office throughout the South.
Reflecting on his experiences, Cobb called for a national mobilizing effort to defend and expand voting rights.
“The Post is going to establish a national computer-based voter registration monitoring system to help mobilize volunteers and financial and organizational support for indigenous on-the-ground movements that are operating now, such as Moral Monday in North Carolina,” said Cobb.
“We will soon launch a technology-based registration, legal and election strategy center that will work to overcome the restrictive obstacles that many conservatives are implementing in the 11 southern states, as well as others such as Michigan and Ohio,” he continued.
“We will seek accountability and support from political leaders, especially those running for president in both parties, to end voting restrictions for Blacks and Latinos.”
“This is an ideal issue that Democratic candidates for office could and should be raising. I plan to talk directly to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and members of the congressional Black Caucus,” he said.
“And Republicans, like Mitt Romney who opposed the Confederate flag, can take a stand and join the historic stand his father took when he supported King’s marches in Michigan. Presidential candidates must also now help bring down the Confederate-style voting booth curtains in the same manner as the flag removal if they wish to be relevant to the issues that affect millions of Americans.”
Cobb said The Post and El Mundo will be publishing national special editions that will be distributed to more than 40,000 Black churches and businesses to serve as a communications update on voting rights legal struggles and the strategies that communities are using to overcome voting barriers.
“We will help raise money to transport people to polling places and for organizations that can help people register to vote,” he said.
“If just 50 percent of the unregistered minorities in the 11 southern states of the old Confederacy were registered and voting, we would have a new Congress,” said Cobb. “And the health, environmental, educational and economic justice issues we care about would be acted upon,” he said.
“For example, with more than 600,000 unregistered Blacks in Georgia, all we would need to raise is about $4 million. Combined with a wave of volunteers, Georgia’s political script could be flipped on Election Day.
“Ask Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson about the value of registration and funds for voting . SEF Chairman Julian Bond and I helped raise money for him to get elected as Mayor of Bolton, MS., He rose from there to become chair of the Homeland Security Committee. Now, we must secure our homeland by registering, voting and raising funds to support organizations working for change.”
Those who are interested in working on this project should contact Paul Cobb at postnewsgroup.com or call the Post at (510) 287-8200.