The conventional wisdom in the South is that despite gains on the local level, candidates who represent the views of people of color cannot win statewide office. But this conventional wisdom ignores the numbers. In 2012 there were 3.7 million unregistered black voters, 3.2 million unregistered Hispanics and 750,000 unregistered Asians in the Black Belt.
The Freedom Summer activists understood that politics is at least in part a numbers game. We need to realize that communities of color have the potential to shift the balance of power in the U.S South through sheer force of numbers. Voter registration can make the future come faster in the Black Belt, and 50 years after Freedom Summer, it is time for another bold leap forward.
We have the antidote to voter suppression. In fact, we’ve always had it. We have known what it is for at least half a century. Fifty years ago this month, Freedom Summer activists risked life and limb to register voters in Mississippi and spread the gospel of democracy across the southern United States.