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Souls to the Polls

By: Jared Hunter, Senior Organizer

Historically and to this day, Black and Brown communities have been systematically disenfranchised from the voting process in the United States. Black voter suppression across the country has taken on many forms from direct intimidation, gerrymandering, voter identification laws, and more.

In the 2020 general election, despite significant increases in overall voter population, 71 percent of eligible white voters cast ballots compared to 58.4 percent of non-white voters. The Brennan Center for Justice notes that “…in the final weeks of 2020 and in 2021, state legislators across the country pre-filed or introduced more than 400 bills with provisions that would restrict voting access.”1

For decades, in response to voter suppression tactics, the Black church has become a place in which disenfranchised communities take back their power and their right to vote. Through organizing and mobilizing efforts Souls to the Polls was born out of the Black church’s struggle to amplify its voice at the polling place. Souls to the Polls “is a concentrated effort at Black churches to get everyone to go to the poll…driving as many of the church attendees as possible to the poll to vote.”2 The impact and effect of this effort through the Black church is invaluable to empowering disenfranchised communities, engaging in the democratic process, and ensuring that all we live up to the values of equity and equality in representation.

This year Salvation and Social Justice had the opportunity to support our Black faith communities across the state in mobilizing an incredibly strong get-out-the-vote movement for the 2022 general election. In partnership with 15 churches (listed below) across the state, SandSJ provided over $10,000 to mobilize our Black communities to vote during the early voting period of October 29 – November 6.

Our work across the state led to mobilizing nearly 200 voters in Trenton alone on the day of November 6th, also known as “Freedom Sunday.” We partnered with the Christina Seix Academy in Trenton who provided buses for our churches to use for dedicated caravanning to the early voting location at the Perry Street Fire Station. Throughout the rest of the state, we mobilized over 850 voters during the early voting period by the efforts of our Black church community. It was truly a spectacle to bring the power of over 1,000 souls to the polls this election season!

We would like to thank all our partner churches and their coordinators for participating in this year’s Souls to the Polls effort:

  • Bethel-Hosanna AME Church, Pennsauken – Rev. Richard Norris

  • Bethany Baptist Church, Newark – Rev. Shawn Torres-Anderson

  • Freedom Christian Worship Center of New Jersey, Trenton – Bishop Lionel Awode

  • First Baptist Eggerts Crossing, Lawrenceville – Deacon Arthur McCray

  • Friendship Baptist Church, Trenton – Pastor John Taylor

  • Grant Chapel AME Church, Trenton – Rev. Charles Wilkins

  • Greater Mt. Zion AME Church, Trenton – Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer

  • Macedonia Baptist Church, Trenton – Rev. Keith Marshall

  • Mount Zion AME Church, Riverton – Rev. Leslie Harrison

  • Mt. Bethel Church of God, Trenton – First Lady Jackie Mullings

  • Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Hackensack – Rev. Dr. John Page

  • Mt. Teman AME Church, City of Elizabeth – Pastor George Britt

  • Shiloh Baptist Church, Port Norris & Vineland – Mondell Matthews

  • St. Luke Baptist Church, Paterson – Pastor Kenneth Clayton

  • Union AME Church, Allentown – Rev. Crystal James

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