As the U.S. inches closer to Election Day, the focus on voters in key battleground states continues to intensify, particularly in Florida where Tyler Perry and non-profit organization Equal Ground have partnered on an initiative to turn out Black voters.
Jasmine Burney-Clark, director at Equal Ground, said the "Souls to the Polls" initiative is about educating communities on important issues and helping them make informed decisions once it is time to cast their ballots. It also conducted voter registration efforts.
Through partnerships with local Florida churches, the group has been able to hold Park and Praise events, where voters can drop their ballots, attend in-car church services, and even hear live musical entertainment.
"We know that COVID has not allowed many churches to come together and convene in a real way inside of their places of worship, so we figured we'd do an outside version of that, where folks continue to stay in their car," Burney-Clark told Cheddar.
Perry and Equal Ground look to bring out more than 250,000 Black voters in the state through the Souls to the Polls drive.
Along with receiving "inspirational messages" at the drive-in services, Burney-Clark said the events allow communities to safely gather after not having interacted or seeing each other for months.
So far the group has received $500,000 in charitable donations to keep the program on its feet and funding the voter turnout efforts.
"We are really using it to fuel the economic structure of Black businesses in our community," Burney-Clark said, by using the money to hire local help with event production, ranging from show elements to food services. Equal Ground is also employing workers to send text messages, knock on doors, and drive people to the polls all in effort to boost Black voter turnout this election.