Digital Organizing Builds Political Power in Communities of Color

June 16, 2015

47,000 Minnesotans are on probation or parole. None of them have the right to vote. TakeAction Minnesota is working to restore the vote to former criminals who served their sentences and are seeking to reintegrate into society as contributing citizens.

On its website TakeAction outlines how it “seeks to elevate the voices of individuals who have been rejected by employers and turned away from voting polls because of sanctions called for by the criminal justice system.” TakeAction amplifies these often-unheard voices by integrating digital tools (text blasts and online apps) with traditional organizing activities.

During their 2014 Justice 4 All campaign, TakeAction made a breakthrough in combining digital organizing with traditional on-the-ground strategies. With the help of Voqal Fund, the organization crafted a digital campaign with messaging gleaned from the stories campaign volunteers heard from people actually living within the community.

TakeAction Minnesota Executive Director, Dan McGrath, remembers a particularly successful Facebook ad they ran:

“It featured Marcus, a young man who had recently graduated from the local high school, standing on his old football field. In this ad, Marcus held a sign that said something we heard often when door knocking in his low-income neighborhood: ‘I don’t mess with politics.’”

“Neighbors and friends who saw the ad recognized Marcus as a member of their community. It also spoke to something deeper: a community that sometimes turned their backs on political life, because they felt the political system had turned its back to them. Before long, the ad had been seen 30,000 times.”

TakeAction is one of many grassroots organizations supported by Voqal Fund working to leverage digital tools and platforms to create far-reaching impact and connection within underrepresented communities of color.