ADL and National Urban League work together to get out the vote

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: Marc Morial, president of National Urban League, speaks at the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2020 in Washington. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

By Ayana Jones

PHILADELPHIA — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the National Urban League are working together to help people register to vote, learn about the presidential candidates, and apply for mail-in ballots or find their polling places.

They will try to reach young people through churches, peer-to-peer text messaging, social media platforms and face-to-face community engagement. Their efforts come as many young people have taken to streets around the country in protest.

“Our goal with this ‘Our Time, Our Vote’ project is to demonstrate the connection between voting and justice,” said former NExT President Tomas Valera.

“We do recognize that for many that are marching on the front line it is about justice — criminal justice reform, police reform, so many different issues that folks are looking to address — and they are looking for ways to create a more just community. We want young people to recognize that voting is just one tool in the tool box. We do not want to be naïve and communicate a message that voting can solve all problems. We know that this is just the start.”

He continued: “What we are really focused on is creating a more informed and engaged citizen. We want our initiative to show that voting is about power and representation.”

The two groups want to provide resources for young people and educate them about the voting process.

“I think that one of the issues with young people is that when they look at politicians, they don’t see a face that looks like them. They don’t see someone who speaks like them in many cases,” said Scott Goldstein, co-chairman of the ADL Philadelphia Associate Board Advocacy-Outreach Committee.

“We want to encourage people to become educated on issues. Whatever your issue is, find a politician who either best supports that, or you can line up with. No one is perfect, but we vote based on issues and that is how we have to move forward.”

Goldstein said the two groups hope to help young people make voting a habit that they will continue in state and local elections, “where, frankly, a lot of the real change happens.”

The two groups also hope to build stronger relationships between the African American and American Jewish communities.

“We unite our efforts and our forces against hate, division and racism in America,” NUL President and CEO Marc Morial said during an online press conference held on Monday.

“Enough is enough and we cannot be the generation that stands for the rise in tolerance, the rise in hate, the normalization of racism and antisemitism in American life. We must say no to what we see in America today.”

He continued: “It is so critical that we energize and support the tremendous new conscious of our young people, our young adults, our teenagers. Those who are truly the leaders and the energy of tomorrow are really the drivers of this movement against hatred today.”

Morial said he is confident the partnership will enable the organizations to fulfill their collective missions.

“This is about how do we engage the next generation in the Jewish American and the African American communities,” said ADL President and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“How do we take those Jews of color who live between us and those in our communities who might not naturally be working together and facilitate and enable deeper, closer connections on the issues that we both care about? As partners in the fight against hate and striving toward empowerment we will initially focus this strategic alliance between ADL and the Urban League on voter outreach and education.”

The new voting rights project is spearheaded by the Urban League of Philadelphia (ULP) and the ADL Philadelphia’s young professional affiliates.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared