ACLU and BlackElectorate.com Announce Partnership To Raise Awareness Of Felony Disfranchisement

March 4, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org; (212) 549-2666 

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and BlackElectorate.com's "Business and Building" Community are proud to announce the launch of their partnership to raise awareness of the devastating effects of felony disfranchisement on this country’s African-American community. The partnership fuses the strengths of each organization – the ACLU’s longtime involvement in states which set policy on this issue and BlackElectorate.com’s broad audience and close ties with African-American leaders – to give this issue greater visibility within the black community in this historic election year.

“Today the people of Texas will go to the polls, but over half a million Texan citizens will be unable to vote due to a felony conviction. Over 165,000 of those disfranchised Texans are black,” said Laleh Ispahani, Senior Policy Counsel with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “Disfranchisement runs contrary to fundamental precepts of democracy, human rights, and of giving people a second chance, a chance at true rehabilitation.”

In the United States, one out of every seven - or 1.4 million - African-American men is disfranchised and cannot vote due to a felony conviction. This rate is nearly seven times the national disfranchisement rate of one in 41 adults. The ACLU and BlackElectorate.com have developed a multi-faceted, nationwide plan to raise awareness of this critical voting rights issue that includes targeted projects in California, Florida and Mississippi; the recruitment of prominent African-Americans to address this issue at rallies, conferences and in public service announcements; and the launch of a large-scale guerrilla, viral, and street campaign to engage youth that features street teams, t-shirts, music, videos, and the ACLU documentary, “Democracy’s Ghosts.” 

“At a time when many are focused on primary races, candidates and debates, it is important to remember that so many individuals in this country still do not even have the right to vote. We are proud to form this relationship with the ACLU to place a spotlight on an issue that not only determines the real winners and losers on the campaign trail, but also reflects an aspect of America's racial divide that many wish to ignore,” said Cedric Muhammad, Publisher of BlackElectorate.com and Convener of its Business and Building Community, a diverse group of entrepreneurs, professionals, activists, artists, intellectuals and students drawn from the website's community.

To learn more about the work of the ACLU and BlackElectorate.com to restore voting rights to people with felony convictions, and their partnership on felony disfranchisement please visit:

www.aclu.org/righttovote
www.blackelectorate.com
www.democracysghosts.com

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