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Low Black Turnout At Polls Means Struggle Isn't Over, Says Chair Of Legislative Black Caucus

Mose Buchele
StateImpact Texas

 This week of Juneteenth, we're taking a look at the 2012 voting numbers for African-Americans, and why there is a gap between younger generations and those from the civil rights era of the 1960s.  

"Lost in translation," is what the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Houston Democratic Rep. Sylvester Turner, says may be happening when it comes to younger generation blacks showing up at the polls.  He says critical votes cast during events like the civil rights movement are simply just history for a younger generation.

Turner says,  “I think there is a tendency to want to believe that we are past all of that... that slavery was then, not now.  So all of those things are tied to 'then.'  [On] Juneteenth we honor it, we celebrate it, but that was all back then.”

A look at the polling numbers from the 2012 Census shows that African-Americans in Texas age 18-24 had a 25 percent voter turnout during the November elections. That's the lowest number amongst all other states in the Southwest, including California. Nationwide, 49 percent of young black voters cast ballots in 2012 (a number that was also down, from 55 percent in 2008). Turner says while younger generations of blacks vote less, there are still significant reasons for them to vote more.

Turner says, “We are fighting real battles right now in real time that are impacting African Americans at Texas Southern University, Prairie View University... redistricting, that’s real time.”

Turner says it’s incumbent on the older generation to remind younger blacks of the struggles they went through and to help them look for those subtle similarities that still exist in today’s society as a reason to show up during elections.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.