KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Groups in Kansas City, Missouri, want to turn Juneteenth celebrations into action by hosting a voter registration drive Friday afternoon.
The goal of the groups is to get African Americans and anyone else registered to vote ahead of the August primary and November general elections. The deadline in Missouri to register for the election on Aug. 4, 2020 is July 8, 2020.
“This is a huge time for us right now,” explained Cecilia Brown, a Jackson County Bar Association board member. “It’s so important that other Black organizations gather together to invite everyone out to use their voices especially during this time where it’s really hard in the world to be Black.”
It’s no mistake the group is hosting the drive on Juneteenth, a day marking the announcement and implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation in the last Confederate state. Organizers are optimistic Juneteenth paired with a recent rise in awareness and protests about systemic racism in America will lead more people to vote.
“It’s great to have everybody doing the Juneteenth celebrations, it’s great for everybody to now be recognizing what’s going on with the Black culture. For there to be true change, there has to be policy change,” pointed out Craig Moore, a co-founder of Black Excellence KC.
Up for election this year are several county, state, and federal positions, including the president. There will also be a question on the primary ballot in Missouri about whether to expand Medicaid.
Brown said a history of discrimination and disenfranchisement turned off generations of African Americans from voting. She said their voices matter more than ever today.
Brown and other organizers hope people realize by registering to vote and then voting, they can hold leaders accountable for breaking down institutionalized racism.
"We have the power to do that so we’re going to make sure right is done this year. We’re not just gonna talk, we’re going to vote,” said Kiona Sinks, the co-founder of Black Excellence KC.
The NAACP of Kansas City, Jackson County Bar Association and Black Excellence KC are hosting the drive.
It will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday in the parking lot behind the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at 1616 East 18th St.
Participants stay in their cars in order to maintain social distance between themselves and the event organizers.