By Antjuan Seawright, Columnist
My mother grew up at the Maloney Baptist Church in Woodford, SC while my Dad, of course, grew up in the Prodigal AME Church of Swansea, SC. As a result, as I explain to folks regularly, I was raised in that crossover between the Baptist and AME churches and I consider myself part of both – a BaptiME.
I got to see a lot of things from that vantage point and learned more than I could possibly write down.
One of those was the clear understanding that when you show up, more specifically when the church shows up, good things start to happen.
This past election cycle demonstrated that in a real way because when we, black voters, showed up, things moved…and they moved in a big way.
Now, I don’t want to bore you with a whole bunch of numbers, but let me give you this one statistic to make in clear.
1.2 million black voters turned out in Georgia alone, an increase of 500,000 compared to 2016, flipped the state blue for Biden for the first time since 1992. Now, just a couple months later, those same voters flipped the U.S. Senate.
So let that remind us not only of what’s possible, but what’s proven. When the black church leads, we all succeed.
You see, a lot of people try to take credit for our showing up. Like I once heard the AME preacher say, “Success has many mothers and fathers but failure in an orphan.” But the truth is that the black church deserves the lion’s share of the credit.
Yes, we’ve come a long way from the day when small groups of black men and women meeting in secret in church basements were the only hope for change. Today we have consolidated call lists and social media micro-targeting and countless other high tech tools to help us inform, organize and mobilize black voters.
But the black church is still our biggest cultural touchstone and the key ingredient in our community’s recipe, particularly in the middle of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted our community. As a result, the organizing by the black church community makes a big difference in most places and, in some, the ONLY difference.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because, while all the consultants and analysts take their bows and victory laps pointing out small circumstances they say pushed the needle just far enough to win, we know the truth. We know where victory lives. We know that, when the black church leads, we all succeed.