Political Engagement

More from this show

According to WalletHub, Arizona ranks among states with the lowest political engagement for African-Americans. Greater Phoenix Urban League President and CEO George Dean talks about political engagement in our state.

Jose Cardenas: According to Wallethub, Arizona ranked 45th in the Nation for the worst African-American voter turnout during the 2012 presidential election with less than 60 percent registered. Our state was also found to rank among states with the lowest African-American political engagement. Joining me to talk about this is George Dean, greater Phoenix urban league president. George, welcome back to "Horizonte." It's always good to see you.

George Dean: Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas: So in 2012, the black vote overall was of historically high proportions. What happened in Arizona?

George Dean: Well, I don't know, several things happened in Arizona. First of all, we haven't done -- when I say we, I mean the community and especially organizations like the Urban League and so forth, haven't done the best job that we could do in terms of educating the voting populace about what's going on. We did registration drives, we had voter registration drives, but it's one thing to get them registered, it's another thing to get them to vote. There are 60% of the population, of the African-American population that's eligible to be registered, only 60% of them are. And we are a small percentage of the population to start with. And there are still some folks, in fact, many people that still believe that my vote doesn't count. They're going to do what they want to do and those kinds of things that have gone on for so long that causes them not to go to the polls and not to use the early ballot and vote in their homes and so forth.

Jose Cardenas: So is it going to get worse? Obama is not on this ballot and if the voter turnout was comparatively low when he was, what can we expect this year?

George Dean: Well, we are hoping, we are hoping that it's going to get better. We're hoping that it's going to get better. We're trying to do, the urban league is doing and other organizations are doing it as well, we've got the ministers, the churches, the ministers and pastors are saying hey, guys we've got to vote. It's important. This is just an important as an election as it was in '08 and '12, really, although it's not an African-American on the ticket. It's still just as important in terms of which way we're going because it's just important. We've got to do it.

Jose Cardenas: This election, while it may not be a Democrat, whether it's Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, who brings out the vote, if it's somebody as polarizing perhaps as a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz, will that generate higher voting in the black community?

George Dean: I'm hoping that it will. I'm hoping that it will bring out that whoever any of those two might be running against will be better than what we've had, what we've heard from them and as a consequence of that. Hopefully, that will get people to turn out. But I think the education that we're going to be doing between now and election time is going to really be the determining factor in getting people to use the early ballot and vote early, voting in the confines of their home and so forth, we've got to make that happen, and I think that that is just so very important.

Jose Cardenas: Well, the black vote itself is receiving a lot of attention right now because of the Democratic primary. First of all, your thoughts on that and its significance in the Sanders-Clinton race and second, will that in and of itself, just the greater attention, help things in Arizona?

George Dean: Well, I think that the leadership, the reason that it's happening from the Democratic side is because the leadership, the elected leaders and policy makers and so forth on the Republican side have not done anything to show that they are really concerned about having the black vote, the African-American vote and so forth. And they're saying things that are completely contrary to the kind of things that we believe in and so forth. And everything from illegal immigration and aliens to income inequality, all these kinds of things that are so important to us as a people and so forth that they're standing against. So therefore, it becomes important that we begin to do the kind of things to not let those folks get into office. They can run as Republicans if they want to but we can't get them elected.

Jose Cardenas: Well, George I know you're going to be doing a lot, certainly you have your young professionals program and we'll see how it turns out but thank you so much for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about it.

George Dean: Thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts with you. All right.

Video: To find out more about what's on "Horizonte," go to www.azpbs.org and click on the "Horizonte" tab at the top of the screen. There you can access many features to become a more "Horizonte" viewer. Watch interviews by clicking on the video button or by scrolling down to the bottom of the page for the most recent segments. Learn about more specific topics like arts and culture and immigration. You can also find out what's on "Horizonte" for the upcoming week. If you would like an RSS feed, a podcast or you want to buy a video, that's all on our website, too. Other features include our collection of website links and a special page for educators. While you're there, show your support for "Horizonte" with just one click. Discover all that's on "Horizonte," visit www.azpbs.org/horizonte today.

George Dean : Greater Phoenix Urban League President and CEO

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: