Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield

ATLANTA, GA — In September, Black Voters Matter announced an expansion of its partnership with The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in which it will invest $600K in grants to be dispersed in nine Episcopal Districts across 13 states in support of church-led GOTV efforts throughout the South. Participating AME churches will use the grant to activate community outreach to friends and family of church members, conduct street canvassing, literature drops, polling place parties and rides to the polls. Of the allotted funds for the expansion, $150K will support a special project in Georgia, for the work of the 6th Episcopal District. This partnership speaks directly to the deep ties that African Methodist Episcopal churches have had in Black communities for 235 years spanning centuries. 

The AME Church grew out of the Free African Society (FAS), established in Philadelphia in 1787, that directly addressed discrimination based on race and practices in the Methodist Episcopal Churches. 

The AME denomination has led and nurtured every effort of Black people in search of freedom in America, the continent of Africa, the Caribbean and beyond, with a presence in 39 countries on 5 continents, and claims a membership of 2.5 million. Its Episcopal Salutation states, “that working with the poor and disenfranchised is NOT an addendum to an already crowded agenda. It is the very essence of who we are and what we must be about.” 

There is no social ill that will go unnoticed, no injustice that will be tolerated, and no opportunity to model love – service – and ministry to empower the people that will be ignored nor any efforts to mute its voices that will be tolerated. Its strong roots in the Southern region of the US makes the AME Church a likely partner in any effort regarding freedom and social justice, equity, and inclusion, and ensuring that all people are included in solutions for the good of humankind. 

“Our partnership with the AME Church is very special because of the deep-rooted history the church has had in the voting rights movement in America. Freedom is our faith, and our faith has always been embedded in our fight for the right to vote and justice,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. “There have been ongoing efforts from the right-wing to roll back progress on voting rights with conservative churches embracing voter suppression rhetoric that supports restricting ballot access for millions of Americans. This partnership reflects our outlook to use our faith not as a tool to divide; but a tool to bring folks together and inspire our community to show up and show out at the polls once again for the issues and causes that matter to us.” “We hope that our partnership with the AME Church will encourage our community to raise their voices and use their political power,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter. “We know the powerful role the church has had in our community throughout history, and we believe our partnership today will continue this rich history and inspire a new generation to use their voice and vote.” 

In addition to Georgia, the grant will be extended to include AME churches in the following states: Arizona, Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin– all key battleground states in the upcoming general election. 

As chair of the Social Action Commission of the AME Church, Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield said, “Partnerships are our recognition that we are ‘called’ to serve all the people. Our AME V-Alert effort, in its 23-year history, has created mini-villages with pockets of activism. 

In 2022, our work with Black Voters Matter formalizes an informal relationship in ways that empower all the people. We look forward to a 100% voter turnout of those reached and impact beyond our wildest expectations.”