Susan L. Taylor, editorial director of Essence magazine, poses with William “Bill” Lucy, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, during a recent fundraiser hosted for Unity: The Black Campaign, a voter empowerment initiative. Photo: NCBCP

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation celebrated a successful fundraiser recently at the home of Essence magazine’s editorial director Susan L. Taylor. Organizers said the guest list read like a who’s who list of Black America’s powerbrokers and launched a series of “Unity Circle” house parties to raise money for “Unity: The Black Campaign,” an initiative devoted to increasing civic participation and protecting voters’ rights.

In 1998, the NCBCP launched the Unity Civic Engagement and Voter Empowerment Campaign, a national civic engagement program that provides information, skills, support and advocates collective action to help ensure Blacks fully participate in the democratic process. Key partners have included the National Urban League, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Black Entertainment Television, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, UniverSoul Circus and over 160 other national, civic, civil rights, community, faith-based and fraternal organizations, according to NCBCP.

“Creating a strong Black donor circle promotes self-empowerment,” said Melanie L. Campbell, NCBCP executive director and CEO. “If candidates like Barak Obama and Ron Paul can raise millions from small donors to support a run for office, we are confident that citizens will donate to a campaign designed to empower their own community,” she said.


Among the 60-plus crowd attending the event were Reggie Van Lee, Booz Allen Hamilton; Clayola Brown, A. Phillip Randolph Insititute; R. Donahue Peebles, The Peebles Corporation; and NY Jets defensive end, Bryan Thomas. National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial and his wife, journalist Michelle Miller, also attended the event.

“The Unity Campaign has blossomed into a major force in the election cycle. The campaign’s impact on the ’04 and ’06 elections demonstrated the effect we can have on turnout by uniting for the larger cause. The Black Campaign has my full support,” said William Bill Lucy, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

The initiative includes over 150 of the nation’s most prestigious organizations banding together to register, educate, inform, and galvanize voters and was credited with contributing to the historic turnout among Black youth in the 2004 presidential election, said NCBCP.

“By meeting people where they frequent–from the church house to entertainment venues–we are able to keep the message to vote early and often on the hearts and minds of the community,” said Thomas W. Dortch, president of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.

The initiative’s “Black Voter Empowerment Sunday’s” is a nationwide effort to organize ministries of civic participation. The coalition supplies churches with literature to help focus the attention of congregants on the call to register and vote and urges congregations discuss the historic relevance of voting and protecting the right to vote.

In addition, partnering with well-established, family-focused events, like UniverSoul Circus, ensures audiences of all ages are informed of the connection between voting and everyday life, said organizers. Circus producers integrate civic engagement messages into the show in a language their audiences understand and appreciate.

“Alliances formed over the years provides access to just about every Black household in America,” said Ms. Campbell. “We are activating all of our networks to create a community movement urging people of color to maximize their power and influence at the polls so we can claim our victory.”

To join the campaign, request additional information, sign up a church or to donate, call the NCBCP at (202) 659-4929 or visit www.BlackCampaign.org.