Since MRNY began our non-partisan coalition voter engagement work in Long Island last year, we have contacted nearly 20,000 voters of color, helping increase electoral participation in the areas in which we are working by almost 17%. Now we’re looking ahead to other elections where our communities’ voices need to be heard, and registering, engaging, and educating working-class voters of color, who for too long have been ignored by Long Island’s elected officials.
Through our project, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET), an innovative partnership with New York Communities for Change, Central American Refugee Center, the Long Island Immigrant Alliance, and others, we are holding government accountable to communities of color, and are nurturing grassroots electoral participation and leadership.
In May, we set our collective sights on Brentwood’s critically important School Board elections. Although Brentwood is Long Island’s largest school district and represents an overwhelmingly Latino and African-American community, the school board has been at the center of recent controversies over racial discrimination by school board members. LICET organized a Get-Out-the-Vote effort and a candidate forum, attended by 150 community members, where community representatives questioned candidates directly about issues of diversity, school finances, and the school environment.
With the election results in, for the first time in Brentwood’s history the majority of the School Board’s members will be people of color. This is a remarkable achievement, and we look forward to working with the new Board to make the school system more responsive to the needs of Brentwood’s diverse community.
We still have a long way to go to make Long Island government truly representative of the fast-growing Latino and African American population in Long Island — Latinos and African-Americans now comprise 24 percent of the population (up from 17 percent in 2000).
MRNY members are on the ground every day, educating hundreds of people about voting rights and civic participation. We have also been at the forefront of the fight to stop gerrymandering that disenfranchises communities of color, and we are organizing forums and mobilizations that demonstrate our communities’ priorities and the importance of the Latino, African American and immigrant vote.
To learn more about our Long Island voter engagement work, visit www.licivicengagement.org