The Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition (YBLOC) is a movement of young Black lawyers and law students led by Abdul Dosunmu. Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition educates and empowers Black voters facing voter suppression. Abdul Dosunmu is the founder and chief strategist for the Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition. He earned his law degree from NYU School of Law. During the Obama administration, Dosunmu served as an assistant to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
In an interview with the Chicago Defender. Dosunmu discusses the work of the Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition, pushing back against voter suppression and holding corporations accountable for their support of voter suppression.
AB: Could you begin with a description of the Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition?
AD: Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition is a movement that assists in fighting for a free electoral voice in the Black community. As Black lawyers and law students, we are positioned to help Black voters overcome voter suppression tactics. We are a network of local Black legal talent activated in the community to fight voter suppression and assist in other community needs.
AB: Since the 2020 election, over 350 new voting legislation has been introduced across 47 states. Each aimed at making it more difficult for Black and minority voters. Georgia recently passed a 98-page election bill that could have restricted the long-standing Black tradition, “Souls to the Polls”, where voters cast their vote after Sunday church services. With these new provisions, what resources will Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition provide to those affected by these new state voting laws?
AD: These voter suppression tactics are meant to limit the possibility of Black political advancement. We cannot leave communities to fend for themselves in the face of these attacks. It must be a robust legal structure in place for communities. We’re making sure we provide actionable and tangible resources to voters. Every voter that is preparing to go to the polls should know what their rights are. They should be able to understand their rights and know what resources are available for them to fight for their rights. Our model is centered on leveraging the power of our network to get that information to the black voters and doing it throughout the year, not just during elections. We want voters to know what their rights are, and to fully exercise their rights.
AB: With these policies and laws that many state governments are introducing, are some, if not the majority, in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?
Abdul Dosunmu: The Voting Act of 1965 gave us tools to protect voters. One of the core provisions was the pre-clearance review, which says that because states have a history of voter suppression, any changes to state voting laws must be reviewed and approved by the justice department. Now in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted that provision. So, the voting act that our ancestors fought for is on life support, and that what leads these states with their voter suppression tactics.
AB: During the historic 2020 election, Young Black Lawyers Organizing Coalition embarked on a 7-state campaign. Working key battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. Can you discuss that campaign?
Abdul Dosunmu: In 2020, we were active in advocacy. Pushing back against voter suppression in places like Texas. We made a big push in many Georgia counties to close the information gap. In Arkansas, we partnered with The Confess Project to provide community support to barbers. So as voters are sitting in the barbershop, those barbers are empowered to offer voter suppression support to their clients. That’s the type of strategic advocacy that is necessary to ensure accountability.
AB: Since 2015, corporations have donated 50-million dollars to policies that support voter suppression. This lack of accountability led you to publish an open letter addressing this matter. Should Black America hold these corporations liable for their support of voter suppression?
Abdul Dosunmu: What’s important to understand is that corporations in support of voter suppression are taking the Black dollar and investing the money into voter suppression bills. Our message to Corporations is this. You have a responsibility to help Black voters to establish a standard in this country that says any attacks against the inclusivity of our democracy are unacceptable. Black voters have the right to demand that from these corporations that they support with their Black dollars.
AB: In your open letter to corporate America. You said, “We have laid out a set of concrete actions that corporations must commit to with urgency to demonstrate that they truly believe in an inclusive democracy.” What does inclusive democracy look like for you?
Abdul Dosunmu: Inclusive democracy, for me, means a democracy where everybody can freely express political voices. Along with their hopes and dreams for the future of this country.
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Ali Bouldin is a freelance writer within the Black and Hip-Hop culture. With featured articles in multiple publications. Follow his Instagram @Ali.Bouldin.