African American engagement Strategy

African-Americans are one of the most influential and reliable communities supporting the Democratic Party, especially African-American women. The Democrats have historically led the way on the economic and social issues impacting the community. Yet, like other core constituencies of the party, turnout was down among African-American voters this election.

The Democratic Party must demonstrate through action and commitment that it values its African-American voters and is willing to earn their vote. 

Keith’s DNC platform highlights the need to actively engage Black voters on the issues that matter to them. The 2016 election demonstrated the importance of ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table. Many African-Americans feel overlooked and left behind in their own neighborhoods, whether it’s by the local government, law enforcement, or the school system.

As a member of the Platform Drafting Committee this summer, Keith pushed to include issues critical to Black voters and they will remain front and center if he is elected DNC Chair. He successfully secured the inclusion in the Democratic Platform of support for increasing the transparency and accountability of grand juries, for a $15 minimum wage, and for better affordable housing for low income families. He also strongly supported language that would ban private prisons, support “ban the box” to help formerly incarcerated individuals re-enter society and get the support they need, restore voting rights for the formerly incarcerated, and oppose discriminatory photo ID requirements to vote. Keith has demonstrated his commitment to lifting these critical issues and offering real solutions throughout his career.

Coupled with Republican led assaults on the right to vote, it’s no surprise that voter turnout was also down in predominately African-American cities like Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia but also North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio. We should be winning these states but our victory depends on successfully engaging the African-American community. The simple fact is that if Democrats matched the turnout from 2012 in those cities, we’d be talking about President Hillary Clinton right now.

At this critical time, we need a leader who has a proven record of fighting the injustices that left so many of us feeling left behind and that person is Keith Ellison.

Keith understands that the DNC must reflect the diversity of America. He believes we need an inclusive hiring process to create a staffing applicant pool that reflects our country. Keith will also work to expand vendor contracts because he knows that the Democratic Party can’t just say it’s inclusive and diverse. It must be inclusive and diverse. That means doing business with Black owned businesses. He’s also dedicated to providing resources that lead to effective outreach. He's pledged to designate an outreach and organizing staff lead for each of the constituency communities in the charter and bylaws. He knows that African-American community engagement and organizing doesn’t just happen, it takes resources and it will be a priority for Keith as he works to rebuild our party.  

Keith also understands that the key to engaging African-American communities is engaging them year round not just during election time. Democrats can’t show up a few weeks before election day and simply ask for someone’s vote. We have to build relationships year round, including hiring organizers who reflect their communities. We do that by turning on in the off year and inspiring communities of color to vote through fighting for a livable wage, voice on the job, immigration reform, which includes African and Caribbean immigrants, criminal justice reform, and environmental justice.