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May 12, 2021

Livingstone, Mission House Church to host national ‘Black Voters Matter’ listening session

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Livingstone College, Rowan Concerned Citizens and Mission House Church will join national advocacy organization “Black Voters Matter” to host a listening session Monday discussing issues impacting the Black community.

Black Voters Matter is partnering with more than 20 groups across North Carolina to support a 21-day “WEMATTER” listening session tour in an effort to uplift and discuss issues plaguing Black communities.

The virtual tour began April 5, and it will make stops in 17 counties. A Rowan County session will take place virtually via Zoom on Monday at 6:30 p.m. Those interested can register at bit.ly/rowancowematter. The session is expected to last roughly 60-75 minutes.

“We want to harness the energy and build from the momentum that was created during the 2020 election by connecting with the basic needs of the communities that BVM and our partners serve,” said Black Voters Matter North Carolina coordinator Danielle Brown. “We will engage and involve our communities by building an organic issue-based slate that is created through these listening sessions. It is important that community members know that they matter to the political process and have a say in the next moves that are being made that ultimately affect their day-to-day lives. It is important that political leaders know and understand that we matter and that it’s about us.”

The goal of the tour is for each county to create a three-t0-five-point action plan based on discussions in each session, and Black Voters Matter will distribute the findings throughout the state to engage the community on the most important issues ahead of local elections.

Livingstone College professor Dr. Da’Tarvia Parrish told the Post each semester her English 360: Racism, Anti-Semitism and Partiality in Literature and Popular Culture class participates in a service-learning project. For this semester, the idea to host the event as the project was prompted by one of her students, William McCorn, a senior majoring in sociology.

Along with Parrish, Livingstone College student Rainford Raffington Jr. will assist as a host. William McKee, an instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, will moderate the session.

Livingstone College student Quintin Jordan and founding member of Rowan Concerned Citizens, Emily Perry, will take notes based on the discussion, while Kameron Wilson, another student, will be the timekeeper. Eryka Praileau, the 2020 Ms. Livingstone, will help develop the action plan to be submitted to the Black Voters Matter organization.

Additionally, Pastor Anthony Smith of Mission House Church is a partner hosting the event.

Parrish said the overall goal is to highlight persistent issues in the U.S. voting system and national infrastructure, things “that directly affect the community and also dictates policy.” For example, the session will likely discuss the history of Jim Crow-era laws meant to suppress the Black vote, including literacy tests and poll taxes and their kinship to modern-day voter ID laws in North Carolina.

Perry said issues discussed can also be broader, such as the issue of child care for working families.

Parrish added that action plans across the state generated from the listening sessions will “authenticate the movement” and give North Carolinians a voice as Black Voters Matter and other advocacy organizations mobilize the Black community.

If interested locals are unable to tune into the session, they can visit http://bit.ly/wematterissues and submit their thoughts by April 29.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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