Black Votes Matter Fund co-founder LaTosha Brown speaks with The Blackprint
In the second event for their Women of Color Trailblazers series, The Blackprint hosted a panel discussion with esteemed voting rights activist
The Blackprint hosted award-winning community organizer LaTosha Brown for the second installment of their Women of Color Trailblazers series on April 7 to discuss voting and barriers Black people face in some states.
Brown is a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, philanthropic consultant, political strategist, jazz singer and the co-founder of the Black Votes Matter Fund (BVM). BVM is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “increasing power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.”
She hails from Selma, Alabama, a landmark for the voting rights movement.
The Blackprint’s Multimedia Editor Festicia Bovell and first-year adviser and AUx instructor Aja Simpson Zulfiqar moderated the panel discussion with Brown.
Along with Cliff Albright, a fellow Black activist and organizer, their purpose for BVM is to empower the Black community to vote and participate in politics in rural counties and smaller towns and cities that are often ignored by candidates, politicians and the media.
Most notably, BVM’s on-the-ground work in 2017 helped elect Doug Jones, Alabama’s first Democrat to the Senate in over two decades.
Brown said one of the most defining moments in her career was when BVM went to Randolph County, Georgia to protest the county administrators reducing the number of polling sites from seven to two. She said an elderly woman burst into tears after asking Brown if their bus had “Black Votes Matter” written on it. Brown responded, “Yes it does, and yes we do.”
“It was something about that moment that I don’t think I would ever forget. It was almost like I knew all these years I’ve been doing this work, I knew it was important, but in that moment I knew she didn’t even have to tell me, I didn’t need the words,” Brown said. “In that moment that exchange I was like, if nothing else, if we’re not doing anything else but getting our people to believe in their power and believe in themselves again and believe in their right to their agency, if we don’t do anything else, then we have actually contributed, what I think is the greatest contribution we can make to our community.”
BVM works with local grassroots organizers to register voters but also protests against voter suppression policies across the country. Going on nationwide tours in their van, the BVM team focuses on boosting Black voter turnout by giving community groups the tools for change.
In response to a new Georgia voting bill controversial among civil rights groups, Brown spoke about how it was “white backlash” to the historic Black turnout for the 2020 election that flipped Georgia blue.
“It was voter suppression that actually led to the new governor, the same governor who’s leading the voter suppression. What do we do? Our response to that was we came out in greater numbers in 2020,” Brown said. “What did we do? In a runoff in Georgia, we came back even greater. So I think part of the problem with racism, is it always, has a way of underestimating who we are.”