Kermit Williams, Co-Director of Oakland Forward, represents one of several local activist groups that Voters Ed Fund partnered with this year. Throughout the year, Voters Ed Fund worked with Oakland Forward to mobilize volunteers and community members towards increasing voter education and participation in underrepresented communities in Oakland County.
Oakland Forward is an African American-led organization with a mixture of organizers who reflect the growing diversity in Oakland County. Their mission is to “build power to remove economic, racial and social barriers to provide opportunities for individuals, with a focus on people of color, in Oakland County.”
Kermit sees a clear synergy between that mission and Voters Ed Fund’s focus on strengthening democracy in Michigan:
“Equity [plays] a core role in true democracy. Since the constitution was written the country has been searching to fix structural equity. From the 3/5 rule stating that African American were not whole human beings to woman suffrage, this democratic experiment has [had] to improve.”
This partnership has been building for several years now. As Kermit recalls, “Voters Not Politicians has been a true partner from [Oakland Forward’s] work around redistricting until today. Many orgs want to parachute in, but VNP believes in working together with those who are on the ground everyday, 365.”
That belief in the value of collaborating with local activists led VNP to expand our partnership with Oakland Forward into two new projects in 2022: F.E.E.D. Day and My City Votes 2022.
The Freedom, Education, Expungement, and Democracy (F.E.E.D. Day) event brought together complementary goals of sharing resources and information to empower individuals to fully participate in our democracy. Our My City Votes 2022 partnership enabled Oakland Forward and Voters Ed Fund to reach out to 8000 unlikely and untouched voters in Pontiac, and send out mailers in partnership with the Pontiac City Clerk encouraging voter participation.
By working together, Voters Ed Fund and Oakland Forward are able to amplify our impact in underrepresented communities and “make sure no voters fall through the cracks.” One of the greatest benefits of this partnership is a stronger, more inclusive democracy for all.