Baptist seeks to rock the UK Black vote - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
March 14, 2005

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Baptist seeks to rock the UK Black vote

-14/03/05

American civil rights activist and Baptist pastor Jesse Jacksonís visit to Britain is being described as ìa major boostî by Operation Black Vote (OBV), a non-party political campaign supported by a broad coalition of mainly Black organisations.

With a hotly contested general election still predicted for May 2005, OBV is aiming to combat relatively low levels of Black participation in the electoral process in the UK. The Rev Jackson, who has urged Black churches to get on board with the initiative, says that Black voters could become a new force in British politics, waking the country from its complacency and lack of concern for a growing underclass.

The Rev Jackson told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the Black vote nationally was 10%, and much higher in the big urban conurbations, including London.

ìThat vote has power and proper leverage. If it triggers a coalition the Black vote can have a disproportionate effect... Big races are often won with small margins,î said Jackson

He declared that this was partly because Black voters tended to concentrate on major moral issues such as debt relief for Africa and fighting the spread of HIV/Aids.

Operation Black Vote seeks to build a strong political voice for African, Asian, Caribbean and ethnic minorities. It is shortly due to give details of about 70 parliamentary seats where it says minority ethnic votes could be decisive, including a few where Black voters make up over a third of the electorate.

The Rev Jesse Jackson is a high profile civil rights campaigner in the US. His track record includes contesting presidential elections and working with the Rev Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s. He is president of the Rainbow/Push coalition.

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