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Statewide campaign: Mobilize Black voters for 2024 elections to overturn 'extremist legislation'

People carry signs during the "Teach No Lies" march to the School Board of Miami-Dade County to protest Florida's new standards for teaching Black history, which have come under intense criticism for what they say about slavery, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/AP
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AP
People carry signs during the "Teach No Lies" march to the School Board of Miami-Dade County to protest Florida's new standards for teaching Black history, which have come under intense criticism for what they say about slavery, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A statewide group seeking to boost the power of almost 2 million Black voters in Florida is kicking off an ambitious voter education campaign to “combat extremist legislation in the state and ensure Black Floridians' voices are heard” in November’s elections.

Equal Ground will launch a tour to promote its effort on Saturday, April 20, in Pinellas County with additional stops in Orange, Hillsborough and Lee counties. No specific dates have been announced for other counties, including those in South Florida.

The group will call attention to what they describe as “wide-reaching attacks on communities of color” by the Republican-majority Florida Legislature, from censoring African-American history course in public schools to new voting laws they say led to hundreds of thousands of Black voters being removed from the rolls. They also want to educate voters about upcoming ballot issues that include protecting abortion rights and legalizing recreational marijuana.

Last week, Equal Ground criticized Gov. DeSantis for signing a bill into law that effectively bans civilian oversight of police departments, and only allows police to investigate and hold themselves accountable for any potential wrongdoing.

“As a social justice organization committed to protecting the rights of Black Floridians, we know that civilian review boards are often the last line of defense for Black people to hold rogue law enforcement officials accountable for misconduct,” said Equal Ground Interim Executive Director Genesis Robinson, in a statement. “Disbanding police review boards contradicts the ongoing efforts to reform policing practices and address systemic issues within law enforcement.”

The latest statewide voter registration numbers show Blacks represent about 13% of all registered Florida voters and are mostly Democrat.

Numbering 1.7 million voters, they trail the state’s 2.4 million Hispanic voters and 8.3 million white voters. Nearly 1.3 million Blacks, about two in three, are registered as Democrats. Less than 76,000 are registered as Republicans and about 336,000 are NPA’s (No Party Affiliation).

In 2020, President Biden collected a large majority of Black voters, 89%, while Republican Donald Trump got 11%, according to exit polls.

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Sergio R. Bustos