Empowering Black Joy:
The 2018 Color Of Change PAC Story
This is it.
Tomorrow is Election Day, and we have been working hard all year to make sure that Black communities across the country have the information and resources that they need to turn out and vote.
Throughout 2018, we’ve had some ambitious voter contact goals, but our most important goal has been this: to empower Black Joy.
When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, my heart sank. Racism, xenophobia, and other forms of fear-mongering were being used to rally millions on the far right, all at the expense of our freedom and well being. At that moment, I knew we as an organization had to do more. Black folks needed a political home that we could call our own. Where we could be our full selves, in community with each other, sharing and lifting up our stories for all to hear.
Two years later, there is one thing that I know for certain: Not only is Black Joy beautiful; it is an effective force to build Black political power in America.
Together with all of you, here is what Color Of Change PAC has accomplished in 2018:
- We held 87 Black Joy-themed events across the country, attended by 14,355 individuals
- We started text conversations with 1,352,850 people on the importance of voting, urging them to support Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Wesley Bell, and many more
- We made 23,831 phone calls and knocked on 57,293 doors
- We opened community offices in Jacksonville, Miami, Detroit, Las Vegas, and St. Louis; and our volunteers completed 363 volunteers completed canvass shifts throughout the election
- Our digital ads were seen 6,267,807 times in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and Nevada
- All in all, we made 2,376,138 voter contacts throughout the election cycle
These are the numbers, and – while they’re important – there’s a larger story to tell as well. Here is how we accomplished ALL of the above.
It All Started with Brunch
Last year, we started something we had never done before: we invited our members to the inaugural Black Women’s Brunch series in Detroit, Miami, and Las Vegas. Hundreds of people came together to share their stories and celebrate Black women and our experiences.
Our Black Women’s Brunch series was so successful that we decided to launch a national mobilization tour, including HBCU youth voter engagement events, Block Parties, and Black Leadership Camps. In total, we built community in all the following cities (and more!):
- Oakland, CA
- Atlanta, GA
- Dallas TX
- Durham, NC
- New Orleans, LA
- Miami, FL
- Jacksonville, FL
- Tallahassee, FL
- Savannah GA
- Flint, MI
- Detroit, MI
- Las Vegas, NV
- St. Louis, MO
Over the past year, 14,355 Color Of Change PAC members have come out to our Black Joy events. In total, we had 87 events in 30 cities!
Our Black Joy Brunch series has been a testament to the collective power and brilliance of Black people. We created a space where Black folks from all walks to enter into community with one another, share their stories, and discuss the importance of the upcoming elections. At these events, we danced to the Wobble, took selfies at our Flower Wall, laughed until we cried, and built strong relationships by launching squads committed to mobilizing voters after the brunch was over.
From Brunch to Building Black Political Power
We started with brunches, and we’re finishing this year with a nationwide movement. Here’s a snapshot of how it happened:
Stephanie- a voting rights activist- first heard about Color Of Change PAC when she received a text message from one of our organizers. The first event she attended was #ServeOurSister in Orlando, FL where she helped create care packages for women like herself who had been through the criminal justice system. Later, in July, she attended a training camp with us in Jacksonville, where she learned important skills to mobilize Black voters across the state.
Today, Stephanie loves canvassing. Since starting her journey with Color Of Change PAC, she has gone on to recruit and lead other members to canvass their neighborhoods – sharing their stories and turning out the vote. She and the rest of the Orlando Color Of Change PAC squads have mobilized thousands of Black voters by organizing phone banks, canvasses, and — yes — more brunches to train other leaders!
We couldn’t have made such a deep impact in Black communities across the country without meeting folks like Stephanie in person, and inviting them into our movement. There are countless stories like hers.
It’s because volunteer leaders like Stephanie and supporters like YOU that we’ve knocked on more than 55,000 doors, made over 20,000 phone calls, and sent over 1.4 million texts this year.
Mobilizing Voters through Digital Strategy
This year we’ve accomplished our goal of mobilizing as many Black voters offline as possible. But we’ve known from the beginning that we couldn’t reach everybody at a brunch or a canvass. We knew we had to think strategically about how to reach voters online as well. And we did!
- Color Of Change PAC digital ads were seen 6,267,807 times, reaching millions of voters.
- In our ads, we centered the stories and voices of our members. We asked them to record short videos about the importance of voting and why they were supporting candidates like Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Wesley Bell, Gretchen Whitmer, and more.
- We received over 200 videos this year from our members, telling us why they felt this year’s election is crucial for Black people. These authentic videos were POWERFUL and watched nearly half a million times. Watch the video at the top of this page for just a slice of the amazing responses we got.
The Nation is Watching Us Win
As we’ve grown larger and more powerful this year, people have started to take notice:
- Michael B. Jordan joined us in Atlanta to knock on doors to remind voters of their power
- Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay created a video that tells the story of our program and thanked our volunteers for working so hard to turn out the vote
- CNN came to one of our brunches and reported on our efforts to create a “Black Wave”
AND we’ve already started to win key races!
- Wesley Bell defeated Bob McCulloch, the former St. Louis prosecuting attorney responsible for not indicting Michael Brown’s murderer
- Stacey Abrams won the Democratic Gubernatorial primary, garnering over 420,000 votes and winning over 76% of the vote
- Satana Deberry unseated Durham County District Attorney Robert Echols with 48.8% of the vote. She’s likely to become DA since there are no Republicans running against her this year
When I look back at the work we’ve done together, I can’t help but smile. By centering community and Black Joy, we’ve built an unstoppable movement. A “Black Wave” that’s already been out in force: canvassing, making calls, sending texts, sharing stories, and – most importantly – VOTING.
No matter what happens tomorrow, what we’ve built together this year is beautiful and powerful. Regardless of who wins or who loses, be incredibly proud of yourselves. Let’s wake up on Wednesday morning ready to continue to do the work that our elders pioneered for us. The work to make justice a reality for all Black people in America.