On Monday, August 8th 2016, approximately three hundred people gathered at the County Commissioners’ Chambers to fight against Guilford County Board of Elections (BOE) attempt to suppress their voting rights. Through the efforts of Democracy NC, The Beloved Community Center, League of Women Voters and other organizations, the citizens of the Greensboro community were able to significantly reduce the boards effort to suppress voters access to the ballot.
Despite the last minute notification of the BOE meeting, a flurry of emails, social media postings, and phone calls went out over the weekend to mobilize concerned citizens. By Monday morning, plans were in place for a march, a rally, and packing the BOE meeting room. The march began at the Beloved Community Center at 11:30 AM and proceeded to the Scuppernong Bookstore on South Elm Street, stopping for a short while in front of the historic Woolworth’s civil rights museum. The march ended at the Guilford County Courthouse, where the group rallied for approximately half hour before joining others who had already assembled in the County Commissioners Chamber, where the BOE meeting was forced to relocate to accommodate the crowd. During the march downtown toward the courthouse, the marchers chanted slogans such as, “Fired up, ready to vote”, “stop suppressing the vote”, shut the meeting down” or “Let the people speak.” In addition, the crowd consisted of members of various organizations including: Black Lives Matter GSO, Working America, Guilford County Democratic Women, Greensboro Faith Leaders Council, The Pulpit Forum, Greensboro Voter Alliance, Greensboro Branch NAACP, Piedmont Progressive Action, UNCG, Gate City Alumni Chapter NC A&T, and many other friends and supporters.
The overflow crowd let their presence be felt. Despite the chair’s rejection to letting the public speak, many joined together in chants and songs to show the board that they were determined to be heard. The power of the people compelled the Guilford County Board of Elections to change its previous plan and allow greater access to the ballot. The 2012 early voting plan was essentially kept in place as three additional voting sites were protected. Those sites in particular were, Barber Park, UNCG, and North Carolina A&T.
This initiative reflected a genuine striving for greater self-government. It is because of the efforts of the people that decisions, more in line with the will of the people, were made at the Board of Elections Meeting. The same spirit of determination and mobilization will be necessary to insure greater economic democracy, police accountability, quality education and accountability of publicly elected officials. Let us build on this victory to change the direction of Greensboro towards being a more just and peaceful city. Remember, organize and vote on November 8th 2016. Also, remember the November 2017 local elections are coming.
Join us Tuesday, August 16th, 2016, at 5p.m., as we engage our City Council with a range of issues including equitable distribution of bond funds, forgiveness of the debts of the civil rights museum, paid parental leave for city employees, adoption of the People’s Body Camera Ordinance and repeal House Bill 972.