Rolling Out

Jon Ossoff’s appeal to young Black voters: ‘This is your Bloody Sunday’

Jon Ossoff’s appeal to young Black voters: 'This is your Bloody Sunday'
Captured at the Columbus Civic Center in Columbus, Georgia, (Photo provided by Team Ossoff photographer Kevin Lowery)

The Summer of 2020 will go down in history for young Black voters as the Bloody Sunday of their generation, predicts Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee in a race for U.S. Senate. But the moment becomes defining, historically, only if voters exercise their power at the polls and kick Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler out of office. If Democrats don’t win both Senate seats in January’s runoff election, Ossoff believes any chance to make real progress with civil rights, voting rights and social injustice, will be quashed.

In an interview with rolling out’s Editor-at-Large, Rashad Richey, Ossoff was asked about motivating voters who feel there’s a disconnect between the Democratic Party and the urban community.

His message to young, urban voters: “Don’t miss our chance to change history.

“There HAS been a disconnect because too many politicians have assumed they can pay lip service to race and class inequity without making material commitments to increase access to wealth and opportunity for working people and young people from communities that don’t get a fair shot,” Ossoff said, adding, “That’s why I’m very specific about what I will do. I will vote to raise the minimum wage to $15. I will vote to expand the Pell Grant program so no one has to take on a penny of debt to go to an HBCU or a public college. I will vote to make technical and vocational training — I’m talking about commercial driving licenses, welding certificates, HVAC certifications — both programs should be free and, in many cases, paid.”

The 33-year-old promised he’ll work to reform public education funding and end inequality “along race and class lines. I will work to reform our criminal justice system by passing a new Civil Rights Act to establish national standards for the use of force and empower the Department of Justice to prosecute where there is brutality or profiling or the inequitable application of justice.”

Ossoff said he also wants to legalize cannabis and expunge records for people with nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.

“These are tangible, specific things that will have a direct impact on daily life for young people in Georgia,” he said. “This future is ready and waiting for us. All that is between us and building that future is a decision to vote.

“And when we pass a new Civil Rights Act … we will look back on the peaceful mobilization of last summer after George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were murdered, as our generation’s march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama 1965.”

Ossoff talks more about criminal justice reform in our “What’s at Stake” series on rolling out as well as some of his favorite hip-hop artists, why Atlanta has a lot of culture to be proud of and the incredible influence of the late Congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis.

Early voting is underway for the Jan. 5th runoff races. Find your polling location on My Voter Page.

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