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Ohio Rep. Emilia Sykes: Black Women's Votes Are "Taken for Granted"

With the registration deadline just days away on Monday, Oct. 5, Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) is leading efforts to register Black women voters in Ohio.

We Belong Here, a political action committee (PAC) Sykes created earlier this year, has identified roughly 35,000 Black female voters who moved from urban areas to the suburbs but never re-registered in their new location. Sykes and her PAC are targeting those voters with digital ads on Facebook.

These women may move to a new area, lose connection with their old community, and with that, their connection to the voting process, Sykes told ideastream, adding that they need to be reminded of the importance of their vote and of the process of voting.

The power of Black women as a voting bloc has long been overlooked, she said, and particularly during this election cycle, the “conversation” has been about the importance of the “suburban voter.”

“It means white women,” Sykes said. “Same thing with the ‘working-class voter.’ You just really should insert ‘white voter’ in there. That's really what that means. There's plenty of working-class Black people, but that's not who they're talking about.”

Sykes called Black women the historical backbone of Democratic Party politics, “who over-perform in terms of turnout and reliability.

“Yet when it comes to, again, supporting candidates and even communicating with Black women voters, [the Democratic Party] is lacking,” Sykes said. “State parties, county parties, local parties, whoever it is, completely take Black women's votes for granted. You will see very little outreach directed and geared at Black women. And I think that is just absurd and it is hurtful and it's offensive.”

The We Belong Here PCA hosted a virtual brunch on Facebook this past Saturday to highlight several Black candidates running for local office, including Veronica Sims, who is running for Summit County Council District 5; Desiree Tims, a candidate for Ohio’s 10th Congressional District seat; and Christian Johnson, running in Ohio Senate District 20.


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