SCLC Leader Challenged News Media to Report on Racism

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L-R Charles Steele, Jr., SCLC President and Maynard Eaton, Communication Director during press conference to announce SCLC will join in Voter Suppression lawsuit filed by investigative reporter Greg Palast. Photo Credits ©2018 Harold Michael Harvey

“What is happening in our state is an insult,” Charles Steele, Jr. President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) said before he called on the news media to report on racism.

Steele’s remarks were made during a news conference he called to announce that SCLC is joining a lawsuit filed by investigative reporter Greg Palast against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Kemp is currently locked in a tight race for governor with Democrat Stacy Abrams.

The suit is filed under the National Voting Rights Act of 1993. It alleges that the State of Georgia through the Secretary of State’s office has unlawfully purged more than 1.5 million Georgians from the voter rolls.

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Investigative Reporter Greg Palast filed a lawsuit in Georgia alleging that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is engaged in voter suppression. Photo credits ©2018 Harold Michael Harvey

Palast, a veteran old school newspaperman with his iconic fedora resting snuggly atop his head, said he was in the suit seeking information only.

What is at issue is the method that Georgia used to purge the voter rolls. Palast contends that information that was leaked to him from Brian Kemp’s office suggests that Kemp is sending the state’s voter files to Chris Kobach in Arizona and cross checking names on the Georgia voter list with similar names on Kobach’s Arizona voter rolls. If there are any matches Kemp’s office sends a postcard to the voter and if there is not a response from the voter, Kemp’s office will then purge that person from the eligible voter file.

This allegation prompted Charles Steele at SCLC to practically scream bloody murder.

Steele said that the fact that the Supreme Court outlawed Section 4 of the 1965 Voter Rights Act, coupled with the fact that 300,000 of the 1.5 million voters purged under Kemp have been Black, led him to conclude that racism is at play.

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Press awaiting start of SCLC presser to discuss participation in voter suppression lawsuit. Photo credit (3)2018 Harold Michael Harvey

A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Steele said that Alabama’s history with voter suppression “motivated” him to become a party to Palast’s lawsuit.

“As a civil rights organization,” Steele said, “this is something we can not stand for. If you are scared, just shut up and get out of the way.”

Then addressing the media, Steele said, “You cannot refuse or be afraid to tell the truth. Racism is in this country. Racism is in this state. You are not reporting the truth if you don’t call it racism on the six o’clock news.”

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

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Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at haroldmichaelharvey.com

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