‘Souls to the Polls’ block party encourages members of Black church congregations to vote

A “Souls to the Polls” block party sounded the alarm in Minneapolis on Sunday to encourage Black church congregations to exercise their right to vote.

“To understand what history has done for us, let’s take advantage of the historical march and let’s vote,” Bishop Richard Howell, Shiloh Temple, said.

It’s a push to get the Black community from the church pews to the polls.

“To have our congregants from all over to come and listen to the message on the pulpit to go out and vote, I believe that it will hopefully and positively impact their understanding,” Howell said.

On Sunday, over 50 Black churches across Minnesota pushed for their congregations to make a stop after the church service and go vote.

Right across the street from a Northside Minneapolis early voting location, a “Souls to the Polls” block party kicked off with live music and food to draw people to vote early, while educating the public about their voting rights.

“The reality of voting is voting changes our future and voting has changed lives,” Pastor Broderick Austin, Shiloh Temple, said. “Voting is the only vehicle we have to change the demographics and landscape of things.”

Shemeka Bogan, organizer, said education is a big part of the block party.

“It [voting] affects your everyday life from things with our seniors, things with our health care, childcare and education,” Bogan said.

She explained some people don’t realize how important statewide races are and their impact on the nation as a whole.

Bogan explained telling people who to vote for is not their focus. 

“We want people to do their due diligence and look up who is the best candidate that reflects their views,” Bogan said.

Organizers say the future of democracy depends on it.

“This is literally going to change the landscape of our nation,” Pastor Andre Dukes, Shiloh Temple, said. “We’ve been saying to everyone in our church that your voice matters and your choice matters.”