Chicago Needs A New Year Round Civic/Voter Education Campaign


Mark S. Allen, Founder/Lead Organizer

Chicago Needs A New City-Wide Voter Education Program Among Civic Organizations and Institutions To Restore Hundreds Of Thousands Of Apathetic Voters Back Into The Political Process


National Black Wall Street Chicago, The Multi Cultural; Project, The Monroe Foundation, United In Peace, The Black Leadership Development Institute, BLDI; and others continue the new Illinois Voter Restoration-Voter Education Project -- Organizing Organizers "Back-To-Basics" in restoring ordinary citizens , organizations and institutions to the civic education process around grassroots public policy issues

With grassroots voter apathy at an all time high, with so much political campaigning's new dependence on mass media buys and social media, we must return to the old school art of engaging average citizens in the process of issue identification, translated into public policy initiatives that will once again reconnect them to the civic education and empowerment process. The late John H. Stroger, Jr's political theme of his political organization was that "an educated voter is a motivated voter," but today after hundreds of thousands of Blacks and poor voters are registered, WHERE do they go to get their civic education?  The recent kick-off of a new voter registration and voter education campaign by The Chicago Teachers Union was the biggest boost to a real civic education campaign the Black community has seen in years.

Recently, we witnessed record spending on mass media buys, social marketing, robo-calls, direct mail, appearances by former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama and after all that grassroots people still have no idea which candidate supports grassroots and poor people's issues like domestic violence, access to banking services, local job creation, crime intervention and prevention, education etc.
And even more alarming is that traditional civil rights groups and civic organizations like The NAACP, Rainbow/PUSH, and The Chicago Urban League, and even Black grassroots groups like CBUC/BIPO founded by the late Black activist Lu Palmer, and others no longer have year round voter education and political education staff, forums or everyday programs that used to educate and organize grassroots constituencies around a cross section of civic engagement and grassroots public policy campaigns around issues impacting poor people. 

Chicago's legendary Black talk radio station WVON used to dedicate nightly talk shows called "On Target," that used to be hosted by various heads of Black grassroots organizations, activists,  and others and the grassroots community had an everyday vehicle to be educated on issues and accept ongoing voter education and mobilization assignments around issues of public policies. The current WVON line-up does offers listeners everyday dialogue but not to the extent that the old WVON nightly line-up did in connecting grassroots voters as well as many WVON sponsored community political education forums. 

This is a State of Emergency when in every area where Blacks and poor people are impacted the most, they are participating the least. In all Chicago Wards there are more registered voters who have not voted recently than those who have. Economically, Black people have a new trillion dollar consumer spending power yet the Black consumer power is making every other ethnic group rich except for the Black community. Something must be done to reconnect these grassroots constituencies back into voter education, basic political education, civic engagement around issues of public policy. And while we continue to ask about how to stop the physical violence - that must come from the civic education on how to do more for self from the renewed consumer education and consumer action activities

The Illinois Voter Restoration-Voter Education Project are planning a series of grassroots organizing and public policy forums for 2013 so that the grassroots issues are clear and we strategically know how to keep them on the front burner, for poor people's public policy issues were totally lost in most recent elections and others in previous years, and far too many Black grassroots poor voters did not choose to vote in an election that would clearly define how issues impacting them would be addressed and by which elected office holders.

In addition, the groups should make up a city-wide voter education organizing campaign and plan to engage the leadership and members of these established civil rights and civic organizations into re-establishing their programming on year round civic education. When almost 50% of the City's registered voters recently chose not to vote in the November 2nd election, clearly something must be done to get these apathetic voters back engaged in the electoral process.

When the 2010 elections were over and our City of Chicago engaged in a frenzy of Black and other candidates positioning themselves to be the next Chicago Mayor and for some historically, the first Black to be elected since the elections of Chicago's first Black Mayor Harold Washington, but in the end it failed through lots of political discussions but very little discussion of the same issues by which so much apathy has kept hundreds of thousands of Chicago Black and poor voters away from this process.

Chairman & COO National Black Wall Street Chicago
(Rev. Willie T. Barrow Consumer Education and Consumer Action Project)
Founder/Lead Organizer, Illinois Voter Restoration Civic Education Project
Chief of Staff to National Chairman, National Black Wall Street USA
"And The Ordinary People Said" News Blog,
Chairman, Community Reinvestment Organizing Project
Listed in 2012 Edition Who' Who In Black Chicago
4655 South King Drive, Suite 203
Chicago, Illinois 60653
(Office) 773-268-6900 or direct 773-392-0165
The Rev. Al Sharpton calls Mark Allen "one of Chicago's legendary political activists and one of the best organizers of his generation"




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