The African American Civic Engagement Project (AACEP) is dedicated to understanding African American and urban voters' behavior and increasing their civic engagement through education and electoral participation. By conducting in-depth research, voter opinion surveys, post-election analysis, voter education and training, grassroots outreach and civic engagement activities, the Project does more than diagnose the problems associated with public indifference, voter apathy and disengagement: it advances concrete policy and practical solutions to ensure that all Americans are able to exercise the right to cast an informed vote that will advance their unique political interests.
The African American Civic Engagement Project (AACEP) (formerly the African American Voter Education Project) was created with the intention of developing society-wide discussions about issues important and impactful to the African American community in the state of California. The project is wholeheartedly supported by members of the California Legislative Black Caucus and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
AACEP is a project of Los Angeles-based Community Partners, a non-profit 501c (3) organization.
AACEP draws inspiration from the civil rights activists and political leaders whose work and sacrifices secured and maintain the African American community’s ability to participate in our representative form of government. Just over 50 years ago, that ability was not a reality for over half the Black population that lived in the states of the old Confederate South.
Jackson, Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney, Liuzzo, Hamer, Baker and countless others whose names were never published in the newspapers gave their time, treasure and lives in an effort to perfect our democracy. To them, Black lives mattered enough to elevate leaders like A. Phillip Randolph to champion the pursuit of equality and justice. And they did so without the accoutrements of modern day, disposable technology.
In many ways, African American attempts to maintain the franchise parallel this history. The 15th and 19th Amendments granted African American men and women the right to vote as US citizens, but it was the enactment of the Voting rights Act in 1965 that permitted well over half the Black population in the country to actually do so.
By conducting research and voter opinion surveys, hosting educational, inspirational and outreach activities that honor the African American community’s legacy of civic engagement, publishing policy briefings and post-election analyses, and creatively utilizing traditional and social media in partnership with existing social, civic and organized labor groups, AACEP will enhance voter participation to achieve our aims. Activities like the aforementioned have long served as rallying and acceleration points for encouraging voters to understand the difference electoral participation makes, not just in terms of voter turnout in volume, but also in increasing the quality, accountability and integrity of candidates for elected office.
AACEP has statewide reach, focusing its most intensive efforts in African American communities in the state of California that show historically low voter registration in relation to population and historically low voter turnout in relation to voter registration. AACEP has a particular interest in building on the legacy of civic engagement through electoral participation by making sure that voting habits develop early in life, thus, we have constructed a strong outreach program to young people through school campuses, neighborhoods, workplaces and other culturally appropriate ways to venues where social, educational and engagement activities around personal and civic interests converge naturally.
Our integrity among African American voters and the electorate at large hinges on a reputation for caring that people vote rather than for what or whom they vote. Therefore, we intend that our activities will remain strictly nonpartisan in keeping with state and federal legal requirements, our own preferences as a group, and the high ethical standards to which we hold ourselves. We will neither endorse candidates for public office, nor express favor or disfavor concerning ballot measures. We want voters to grow in their sense of empowerment and come away from our activities with the ability to discern for themselves who and what deserves their vote and their advocacy and the need for an informed and engaged community capable of keeping political leaders accountable to their needs and aspirations.