On Friday, October 24, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO) will host a three-day annual conference in the South Georgia town of Quitman, Georgia– two hours south of Macon and a few miles west of Valdosta. The main theme for the annual fall conference is “defeat voter suppression”.
One large example of voter intimidation and voter suppression had occurred in Quitman. It was a four-year legal ordeal orchestrated by the Nathan Deal administration along with Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp that started on December 21, 2010. The first two Quitman 10+2 trials that featured Lula Smart had ended in two mistrials, but the third trial had ended in acquittal on September 17. However, there is a chance that local District Attorney, J. David Miller, could attempt to revive the case at a later time with other defendants from the Quitman case.
Even though the Voting Rights Act was passed nearly fifty years ago, the actions by Georgia Republicans have provided a sobering reminder that history is attempting to repeat itself in the Peach State — weeks before the November elections.
A few days after a suburban Atlanta Republican state senator–Fran Millar– threatened legislative action as early as next year in the General Assembly to close a loophole which allows Georgia counties to have Sunday voting. Through Facebook postings Millar was quoted in saying: ” I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.” Brian Kemp has now come forward and announced efforts to crackdown on voter registration fraud–exclusively targeting African-Americans.
On Thursday, September 11, the Georgia NAACP and more than a dozen other civil rights and clergy members hand-delivered a letter of protest to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, after he alleged possible fraud by Democratic-backed voter registration group.
GABEO is led by State Rep. Tyrone Brooks. Brooks currently represents parts of Douglas and Fulton counties as the state representative to Georgia House District 63 and has been part of the Georgia General Assembly since January 12, 1981.
Brooks had appeared on Elaine Lucas’ weekly public affairs radio program on Macon’s 100.5 FM and spoke about what’s at stake in this upcoming election and why people — African-Americans specifically– should not treat November 4 as just another day.
Brooks said we think about our family, children, grandchildren when going out to vote. When we vote, we are voting for jobs, expanding Medicaid.
And the GABEO leader had also invoked a quote by the late Dr. Martin Luther King. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Brooks has been a tireless advocate of encouraging progressives and African-Americans in particular about the importance of voting along with citing the consequences of not voting.
Tyrone Brooks began his career in public service as an activist for civil and human rights at the age of 15 as a volunteer with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He became a full-time staffer of the organization in 1967 under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Under Dr. King, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Rev. Hosea Williams and Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, he served in many positions, nationally and locally. Brooks is president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO), a SCLC affiliate. He has been at the forefront and involved in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality since 1960 and has been jailed 66 times for civil rights work.