Macon Hosts Civil Rights Leaders at GABEO Conference

11:49 AM, Oct 28, 2012   |    comments
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Black leaders from across the state gathered in Macon for the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials Conference.  This year's theme was "Turn Out the Vote."

The event featured high profile speakers, such as Andrew Young, who served as a U.N. Ambassador and Congressman and Mayor from Atlanta, and Dr. Joseph Lowery, a Civil Rights leader who worked with Martin Luther King, and also delivered the benediction at President Barack Obama's Inauguration in 2009.

One of the issues addressed was how voter ID laws can be a form of what they call voter suppression.  As an example, they featured the "Quitman Ten," a group of school board members from South Georgia who were suspended from their positions by Governor Nathan Deal for what they claim are false allegations of voter fraud.

The group says the post office returned hundreds of requested absentee ballots in many African-American communities, and that the fraud allegations came because the board members made up the first majority African American black board in Brooks County history.  The group's subsequent fight after their reinstatement earned them GABEO's "Movement of the Year" award.

Another issue brought up was that many in the black community have become complacent, and that they need to continue to make sure the legacy of the civil rights movement is upheld.  Dr. Lowery said in 2008, a higher turnout among African-Americans could have been enough for President Obama to win Georgia.

The event was held at the historic Mount Olive Baptist Church in Macon, which played a role in the Macon bus boycott during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's.

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