A coalition of African-American clergymen have launched The Empowerment Movement, a faith based voting initiative with the goal of registering 1 million voters on Easter Sunday.

Designed to bring together leaders of the faith-based community of all denominations, The Empowerment Movement’s mission is to move the African- American community forward in politics, education and economics with the use of Christian principles.

The Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, was unanimously voted president of the initiative.

The Empowerment Movement has challenged each of the 500,000 Black churches in the U.S. to break a world record on April 8, Easter Sunday, and register 20 people to vote.

In the 2008 presidential election, Black citizens voted at higher levels than any previous presidential election since the U.S. Census Bureau began measuring citizenship consistently in 1996.

In fact, non-whites had the highest voter turnout in 2008 altogether, with more than 2 million additional Black voters compared to the previous elections according to the census.

Still, there are more than 5 million unregistered Black voters in U.S. churches alone, and the newly launched The Empowerment Movement plans to shrink that number further.

“In 1965, Rev. Martin Luther King, a Baptist, Rev. Joseph Lowery, a United Methodist, and Andy Young, a Disciples of Christ preacher, walked out of an AME Church and marched together in Selma for voting rights,” Rev. Bryant told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

“Leaders in the black church today must step up in unity.”

Recently, representatives of leading Black Christian organizations held a closed-door summit to strategize on a collective effort of the church preparing for the November elections. As a result, the Empowerment Movement was formed.

The Empowerment Movement, a non-partisan organization, was launched with the support of a wide range of organizations, including: the AME Church, AME Zion, COGIC, Progressive Baptist, Bible Way Churches, Full Gospel Baptist, Gospel Music Workshop of America, CME, United Covenant Churches, Harvest Churches, Fellowship of International Word of Faith, Church of God, Rep. Elijah Cummings, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to name a few.

Malcolm Maurice

Special to the AFRO