Twin brothers Brycen and Brayden Mahone, 5, of Youngstown hold their re-election sign at the rally for President Barack Obama and voter-registration drive at the former Mr. Paul’s Bakery at Glenwood and Parkview avenues in Youngstown. The event, sponsored by 1911 United, which consists of current and former members of Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi fraternities, took place Sunday afternoon. Below, Jermal Giles, 22, a member of 1911 United and Omega Psi Phi, performs for the crowd.
By David Skolnick
A national organization is teaming up with local groups united in getting out the message to African- Americans: Vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.
Equally important is registering to vote, if you haven’t done so, said Sinclair Skinner, treasurer for 1911 United, a “super PAC,” (political action committee) that sponsored a Sunday rally on the corner of Glenwood and Parkview avenues.
In addition to Sunday’s rally in the city’s Fosterville neighborhood on the South Side, the groups will be active today at Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center from noon to 1:30 p.m. and at Rockford Village on Dogwood Avenue on the East Side from 3 to 5 p.m.
Though some super PACs — which can spend unlimited amounts of money in support of or opposition to candidates on the condition it’s not coordinated with candidates — are shy or coy about which candidates their members support, that’s not the case with 1911 United, Skinner said.
“We go into communities in key states and advocate for the president,” he said.
Some super PACs raise money to run television and radio commercials. 1911 United teams up with local political groups and works to get blacks registered to vote and to cast ballots in seven key states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, he said.
“Rather than talk on TV, we talk to people in the community,” Skinner said. “If we touch 10 folks who can help get 10 supporters each, that’s 100 people. Elections are a process. You need to be involved early and often.”
1911 United is backed by and consists of current and former members of Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi, two predominantly black fraternities that both started in 1911.
The event Sunday was coordinated with the Youngstown-Warren Black Caucus and Simply United Together.
“Many of us don’t get out and vote,” said Sherry Williams, Simply United’s chief operating officer. “A lot of people in our community aren’t educated on registering and voting.”
Among the entertainment Sunday were step-dancers and the Harambee Youth Dancers, a local African folk-dancing group.
“The event is very positive,” said Kimberly Johnson of Youngstown, whose two daughters are Harambee dancers and whose son plays drums for the dancers.
“The only way to make a change is your vote,” she said. “Your vote is your voice. That’s why events like this are important.”
James Brown, also of Youngstown, attended Sunday’s event because it “makes people aware of what we’re doing in this election. We need grass-roots involvement. We need to get everyone involved and have people’s voices heard.”