Detroit Free Press Video: Canvassers work through rain to engage Detroit voters ahead of midterms

By Aleanna Siacon, Oct. 28, 2018 |

Despite a rainy, cold Sunday, organizers for the Color of Change PAC, a political action committee for a national racial justice organization, were determined to connect with “low propensity voters” in Detroit — who analysts don’t expect to head to the polls on Nov. 6.

A combination of weather and traffic cancelled the COCPAC’s original plan to host “The Black Dads Cookout” at Greektown’s International Banquet Center on Monroe. Instead, a team of six volunteer canvassers met at the COCPAC office at the Old Redford Resource Center on Lahser Road before heading out to nearby neighborhoods, where they knocked on doors, urging people to vote.

Joshua and Tisha Berg, of Oak Park, brought their 14-year-old daughter Sosie and 12-year-old daughter Sage to the PAC’s office — up a couple flights of stairs and adjacent to Democratic congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib’s campaign headquarters. 

Tisha, 51, and Sage came along to watch as Joshua, 47, and Sosie geared up for an afternoon of canvassing.

“I think more than ever it’s important for minorities to come out and vote, and my kids, even though they’re not of voting age yet, I want them to see the process — and that change takes place locally, in your community,” Tisha said.

Joshua told the Free Press that they wanted to demonstrate to their daughters how important it is to be active in the community and the political system.

“We want to also make sure that the direction of the country changes in a positive way, and it can’t unless more and more people go out and vote. It’s super hypercritical… people aren’t as aware of the candidates in local elections.”

Another COCPAC volunteer, Cheryl White, said she wasn’t initially very involved in politics, but wanted to see politicians address local issues, like fixing up the roads and ensuring access to affordable healthcare.

“Now I’m looking at candidates in my local community and I want to know, how can that candidate help me?” she said.

After stumbling across the COCPAC and its efforts to engage Detroit voters, White said, she believed the hard work of canvassing could be a vehicle for change.

“I thought, if I don’t do it, who else is going to do it?”

The volunteers put on “Powered by Black Joy” shirts, bundled up, and got ready to knock on doors — targeting registered voters in Detroit’s District 1 neighborhoods: Grandmont-Rosedale, Brightmoor, and O’Hair Park.

Kortni Malone, field manager for the COCPAC ran through their goals:

  • Reach 20,000 Detroit households by canvassing
  • Connect with 500,000 mostly black voters via text messages
  • Engage their 100 members to hold politicians accountable
  • Track the commitments of 7,000 of their family and friends to ensure they turn out to vote.

“We are specifically talking to voters who most statisticians and analytic people, they call them low propensity voters. These are folks that we say, they haven’t voted or been energized by an election since 2008, and this is for a lot of reasons,” she said.

“We are going into their neighborhoods, we’re knocking on their doors.”

Pamphlets in hand and “I’m Black & I Vote” buttons pinned across her black, puffy coat, the PACS canvas director, Jacinda Cason, drove through Rosedale Park explaining to first-time canvassers how to lead with the issues first, and delegating.

“They’ll take the evens… we’ll take the odds.”

Originally published at