In South Carolina, black voters must’show up and show out’ for Biden.

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CHARLESTON, South Carolina When Charlee Bing became aware of a man who was standing outside of a shopping mall in North Charleston, it was late in the afternoon on a recent day. She quickened her pace and hurried toward him while waving a flier in his direction.

I beg your pardon, sir! She yelled out, “Excuse me, brother,” as she struggled to keep her grip on the remaining documents in her possession. “Would you mind if I spoke to you?”

When asked about voter education sessions that were taking place just a few miles away, the junior student at Florida A&M University, who was 22 years old, shared information about them. After extending an invitation to the visitor to come out, Bing continued by reminding him that he should exercise his right to vote.

It is important that you vote,” she told him. She repeated it to the next shopper, and then to the buyer after that. Let’s go out. To be honest.”

Every week throughout the previous week, Bing and dozens of other college students dispersed themselves throughout the shopping center, handing out brochures and encouraging customers to cast their ballots in the Democratic Party primary that was held on Saturday.

It is anticipated that Vice President Joe Biden will easily gain victory in the first officially sanctioned primary of the national party for the elections in 2024. Experts believe that the degree to which he is able to motivate Black voters in South Carolina can provide insight into how he might do in other states and what additional steps he needs to take in order to win over important supporters.

“South Carolina sends a message,” said Larry Watson, a history professor at South Carolina State University. “South Carolina is sending message.” In other states that have a significant number of Democratic voters, it serves as a model for other states… that we need to be actively part in the process, that you need to go to the polls and make sure that your opinions are acknowledged, and that so on.

Charlea Bing, middle, and other students participating in a Black Voters Matter program, look to use canvassing skills they learned to speak with people in North Charleston, S.C., to talk about issues and inform them about an event on Jan. 25.

High-profile Black politicians, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, congressional lawmakers, and even cabinet secretaries, have been seen stumping across the state of South Carolina. They have presented themselves at Black sorority galas, historic churches, Martin Luther King Day events, and the state Democratic Party’s “First in the Nation” celebration, which took place last week. This is a clear indication of the significance of ensuring that Black voters in South Carolina participate in the election process.

It is believed that the voters of South Carolina, particularly the Black voters in the state, were responsible for revitalizing Joe Biden’s campaign, which had been floundering in the 2020 primary election. This gave him the opportunity to win victories in other states and ultimately in the general election.

This year, the Palmetto State is extremely important for Vice President Joe Biden, since polls indicate that his support among African-American voters is decreasing.

A significant portion of the initiatives to increase voter turnout in South Carolina have been spearheaded by grassroots organizations from both within and outside the state.

A number of local activists have been calling their neighbour’s and acquaintances for several months, asking them to cast their ballots, and some religious leaders have even included these appeals in their sermons. In South Carolina, the civic engagement group Black Voters Matter launched a national get-out-the-vote campaign called “We Fight Back” last week. They hosted a three-day conference in North Charleston, which attracted more than 300 activists from colleges and national organizations. The conference was held in North Charleston.

“South Carolina is the first of many primaries in what promises to be a brutal presidential rematch against former President Donald Trump, the likely nominee for the Republican Party,” said Eric Manning, pastor of the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. “It is important to rev up voters,” he said.

When asked about the matter, Manning stated, “It is going to take some time to really energize folks.” “You have to give it a shot. There is far too much at risk for there to be no action!”

Mother Emanuel AME Pastor Eric Manning in the North Charleston, S.C. church on Jan. 24.

Why South Carolina matters to Biden

Last month, Vice President Biden made two trips to the state, during which he expressed his gratitude to African-American voters for their support in the 2020 election. These trips provided his campaign with the much-needed momentum it required heading into Super Tuesday. South Carolina delivered then, fueled by the much sought-after endorsement of United States Representative James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina.

It is because of you that I am the president. At a rally hosted by the state Democratic Party on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the crowd and told them, “You are the reason Kamala Harris is a legendary vice president, and you are the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president.” “You are the reason Donald Trump is a loser, and you’re the reason we’re going to win and beat him again.”

The primary election in South Carolina was moved up to the first official contest in the nation by the National Democratic Party, in part because of the state’s exceptionally varied population. The percentage of black people in the state’s population is close to thirty percent. Compared to that, the state of New Hampshire, which was the first, has a roughly 93% white population.

Although the state of New Hampshire made the decision to maintain its first-in-the-nation primary, it did so without the approval of Vice President Joe Biden. On January 24, the president won the primary through a write-in campaign, despite the fact that his name was not printed on the ballot.

Clyburn, who holds one of the top positions in Congress for African Americans, has stated on multiple occasions that he was not involved in the process of advocating for South Carolina to have the first preliminary election. In his opinion, the long-time position, which he compared to a cleanup batter, was the most advantageous. “A significant amount of mess was cleaned up,” Clyburn stated.

In spite of this, South Carolina is officially in the lead for the first time, and Democrats and civic engagement organizations from across the country are spending millions of dollars on attempts to increase voter turnout in this state.

Black voters are not a homogenous group; nonetheless, historically speaking, they have shown their support for Democratic candidates. Biden attributes his victory in the presidential election to their assistance, not only in South Carolina but also in other states and localities such as Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Lay of the land is different in 2024

The results of a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and published in the middle of January showed that around the same number of black voters disapproved of J. Biden’s performance on the job.

The expectations that there would be a high turnout of black voters this year were dampened by Clyburn. Four years ago, the Democratic field was more crowded, there was a pandemic that affected the entire world, and the nation was plunged in social upheaval.

“The terrain is a little bit different (now),” Clyburn remarked. “The location of the land has changed.”
In the opinion of Watson, a low turnout could be an indication of disinterest among Black voters.

“It sends a message of hopelessness, that we don’t think it makes any difference,” said Watson, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina. It is not in our best interest to give up.

President Joe Biden speaks during the First in the Nation Dinner and Celebration in Columbia, S.C., on Jan 27.

Outsiders come in to help

By the time the clock struck nine o’clock on Thursday morning, Bing and approximately twenty-five other students from colleges and universities all throughout the United States had taken their seats in a conference room in North Charleston, where they listened to specialists describe voting procedures.

As they scribbled notes and harassed the speakers with questions, the students, who were wearing black T-shirts that read “Take the Field,” observed the following:

“How does this impact communities of color?”

“How will it be implemented?”

Students participated in an impromptu performance of the gospel song “Melodies from Heaven” during a break in the training that lasted for the entire day. They cheered and waved their hands as they sang the song.

There was a session in the afternoon that concentrated on providing advice on how to canvass in their areas and at their schools. The surrounding retail area served as the location where they put the lessons into practice.

In Tampa, there were certain individuals, such as Bing, who had participated in campaigns on their campuses and in their communities. In order to attend the training sessions, Bing and a few other students took a week off from their classes.

In his statement, Bing, who is studying in African American studies, stated, “I just feel called to do it.” “I have the impression that it is the ideal course of action.”

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks with supporters during a community political event at LO-Fi Brewing in North Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 24.

In the year 2020, she said that it is more difficult to persuade people to vote than it is now.
Bing stated that it is necessary for people to be inspired. “People are not going to get up and say, ‘I just want to vote today,’ because there are so many different things that are preventing us from wanting to do that,”

the speaker said.

Stars come out for South Carolina

The Democratic National Committee and the Biden re-election campaign are putting in extra effort to increase the number of black voters who participate in the primary election, which is not a very competitive one. They are eager to explain their decision to have the first battle in South Carolina.

Since the beginning of the year, Harris has traveled to South Carolina three times, one of which was on Friday, when he went to Orangeburg, which is a little town located approximately 90 minutes northwest of Charleston. Campaigning efforts in the state have also been made by the First Lady, Jill Biden, and the Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff.

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during a retreat for the women’s society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Vice President delivered remarks to commemorate the anniversary of the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6. It was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 15, that she traveled back to South Carolina in order to deliver a speech at an NAACP event that was held in the state capitol. In addition, while she was in the city, she went to a barbecue establishment and saw the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team, which is now ranked as the best in the country.

As a result of the fact that many black voters identify with Harris, she is popular in the state, according to Watson. Harris is a graduate of Howard University, which is a historically black school located in Washington, District of Columbia. Moreover, he mentioned that some people look up to her as a model.

“It speaks to the strength of Black womanhood, and I think that’s something else that plays well,” he added. “It’s the kind of thing that plays well.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, and California Governor Gavin Newsom are just some of the other elected officials from the Democratic Party who have traveled to the state to campaign for the Biden and Harris ticket. Other Democratic leaders, including possible presidential candidates for the year 2028, have also made their way to the state.

The Democratic National Committee Chair, Jaime Harrison, stated that the concentration of the party on South Carolina, a state that is predominantly red and is very certain to support Biden’s opponent in the general election for the Republican Party, is a reflection of the Democratic Party’s “mission to invest in the backbone of our party.”

College students participating in a Black Voters Matter program get on the bus after a day of classes on voting and canvassing techniques on Jan. 25.

“For far too long, the voices of voters of color have been sidelined or silenced – but we are putting in the work and making early investments to ensure that they have a seat at the head of the table,” Harrison, a former South Carolina party chair, said in a statement to USA. “We are putting in the required amount of effort and making early investments.”
As the co-chair of Biden’s re-election campaign, Clyburn has been at the forefront of the movement throughout the state.

Recently, Clyburn, in his capacity as a political editor at the Post and Courier, a local newspaper, asked questions. He rested his right arm on the table, pushed up his glasses, and ran down a list of Biden’s accomplishments, which included lowering the rate of poverty among children, eliminating $137 billion in student debt, successfully pushing for a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and lowering the high costs of insulin for senior citizens.

“The things that we’ve been telling people about what they can expect to see from Joe Biden, they’re beginning to see it,” Clyburn said later in an interview with USA . They have been hearing it for a considerable amount of time, and now they are starting to come to terms with it.

Diversity of opinions

But not every single Black voter is experiencing this.

In addition to the lack of affordable housing, the high price of groceries, and the use of taxpayer dollars to fund never-ending wars in other places, Marcus McDonald, who is 27 years old and a lead organizer for Charleston Black Lives Matter, criticized Vice President Joe Biden for his inability to better protect Palestinians. McDonald also criticized the fact that this is happening while Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

McDonald made this statement in reference to the anticipated choice that will be made in November between Biden and Trump. “Overall, people are less enthused and more like OK, ‘Here we go again stuck between two evils,'” McDonald claimed. The inevitability of the situation is putting pressure on people. A significant number of young people are simply disconnected and completely shell-shocked.

According to McDonald, his organization is currently working on get-out-the-vote programs, which are mostly focused on local elections and encourage people to be civically involved far beyond the day of the election.

Despite the fact that he is leaning toward supporting Cornel West, an independent presidential candidate, he has stated that many people won’t make up their minds about who they would support until later in the year.

In his statement, McDonald stated that Biden “still has time to do something.”

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., holds up a letter written by a South Carolina resident thanking President Joe Biden for his student loan forgiveness efforts during the First in the Nation Dinner and Celebration in Columbia, S.C., on Jan 27.

Motivating locals to get to the polls

As Bernice Scott leaned on the kitchen counter in Hopkins, South Carolina, she flipped through her composition book, which contained a list of phone numbers that she had written down. She then tapped the screen of her mobile phone during this process.

She was having a conversation with a local priest in a matter of seconds.

The 79-year-old man, Scott, spoke into the phone and said, “I want everybody to get everybody out.” “We have to make sure that our good people remain in office.”

While this was going on, members of the Reckoning Crew, which is a group of local activists consisting primarily of Black women, were also busy contacting other people in Scott’s sunroom. There were some people who were sitting in white rocking chairs, firmly grasping their phone lists.

It was only a few feet away from a pen that contained goats when several people sat on folding chairs on the porch outside.

An individual called and stated, “I’m just calling to remind you about early voting.”

Someone else said, “You are aware that we will be voting on the third of the month in the Democratic primary.” “Alright. Not a problem. A pleasant day to you!”

As they phoned their neighbours, friends, strangers, and pastors, over a dozen members of the Reckoning Crew wore matching T-shirts in the color aqua. They did this for several hours during something that happened not too long ago.

Several neighboring villages, including St. Matthews, Columbia, and Eastover, provided the volunteers for the event. Over the course of nearly three decades, many had been collaborating on a variety of topics, ranging from housing to voting. They were in high gear because the primary election was only one week away.

“It is imperative that we carry it out. “We have to rock,” remarked Jeannette Wilson, who is 79 years old and lives in Kingville. Motivating people to vote is one of the responsibilities that we have as community workers.

Marcus McDonald, the lead organizer of the Charleston Black Lives Matter Chapter, poses for a portrait at Martin Park in Charleston, S.C., on Jan 24.

Scott stated that the task can be difficult at times due to the fact that certain individuals, particularly those living in rural regions, have the perception that they are being excluded or, even worse, neglected. According to her, organizations such as hers are trusted in the community, and as a result, members seek to explain why voting is important.

“We complain about what we don’t have, but what we do have is one vote,” she remarked. “We have one vote.” “It is imperative that we not only show up but also show out.”

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