By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
Social change is contentious and emotional; successful movements arise when leaders are able to put aside their differences and mobilize around common goals. – Leslie Crutchfield
Researcher Leslie Crutchfield’s assertion that social change is “messy business” hits the nail directly on the head for all engaged in this work. For starters, change requires the highly challenging task of bringing people together from different backgrounds and experiences to change their living conditions. Forging relationships among people who may otherwise have nothing in common to achieve a common goal together also requires those involved to reckon with “adversarial allies,” a nearly impossible task.
Yet, we are beginning to see and feel the fresh winds of excitement flowing from the political activism taking root in Toledo that we have not experienced since Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Gone are any past divisiveness, hostility, and acrimony among progressives. In its place is not a Black or labor-only movement but the beginnings of a broad multiclass, multiracial, multi-issue coalition. Labor, represented by the AFL-CIO, including the Toledo Federation of Teachers, Communication Workers of America, UAW, and the Building Trades, united with community organizations such as the NAACP, the Ability Center, Jobs with Justice, and the Unity Coalition. The Lucas County Commissioners, The Toledo-Lucas County Library, and the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department also partner in the renewed movement to “hear from people of color and learn more about each others’ issues.”
One of the coalition’s main goals is to ensure that as many voters as possible have the valid photo IDs required by the new Ohio voting law and are not turned away when trying to vote.
Ohioans must now have a driver’s license, state ID, military ID, or passport to vote. Past forms such as utility bills, government checks, or other documents are no longer acceptable.
Although photo IDs are free at Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations, they require a birth certificate which costs 25 dollars to purchase.
This past week the coalition helped 29 people purchase birth certificates, paid for by the Lucas County Commissioners, aided 47 individuals obtain new social security cards or help for other needs, and knocked on over 2,000 doors in a neighborhood canvassing effort. The coalition remains active in registering community members to vote and following up to ensure citizens meet the new voting requirements.
The coalition’s work comes just in time for the August 8 fight over State Issue 1, one of the most consequential elections in Ohio history.
If approved, State Issue 1 will eliminate the current 50 percent simple majority standard to change the state constitution that has existed for over 100 years. Issue 1 would also tighten mandatory signature-gathering requirements for constitutional amendment campaigns, making it harder for potential ballot issues to qualify.
Instead, the current simple majority standard to change the Ohio constitution would require future amendments to get a 60 percent statewide supermajority in a statewide vote to pass.
The Toledo coalition feels that State Issue 1 removes Ohio citizens’ ability to check legislative power and urges its defeat, especially with potential voter-inspired constitutional ballot measures such as abortion-rights-related or anti-gerrymandering looming.
So, kudos to leaders like Petee Talley of the Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Erika White, Communications Workers of America; Pastor Willie L. Perryman, NAACP; and Lisa Sobecki, Lucas County Commissioners.
Also, the Ohio Senate’s Paula Hicks-Hudson is worthy of special recognition and continued support. Hicks-Hudson not only has risen to the challenge of unifying a fractured Lucas County Democratic Party but is “up to her elbows and swimming up against all the alligators” in fighting an oppressive budget bill and other ugly issues in Columbus on our behalf.
At a time when citizens have never been more divided since the civil war, this coalition brings a fresh wind of reciprocal, complementary efforts between dominant and subdominant entities such as labor, government, and community groups.
Every organization should find a role to actively participate in the goals of this notable effort.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at email@example.com