Nashville Clergyman Launches PAC To Get Millennials And Minorities To The Polls

Sep 12, 2016

A prominent minister in Nashville has formed a political action committee aimed at voter turnout among millennials and minorities. Bishop Joseph Walker of Mount Zion Baptist Church says he's trying to harness current anger about police violence.

An online video produced by well-known political ad agency Fletcher Rowley flashes scenes of officers with their weapons drawn at black men. A voiceover tells viewers to move beyond "outrage."

Bishop Walker says the target audience is those who feel disenchanted with the political process, like many supporters of Black Lives Matter.  

"I'm trying to galvanize them beyond protesting and laying in the street, to standing at the poll," he says. "Ultimately, that's where your voice is heard."

The ads do not name a particular candidate. And Walker says churches are not allowed to contribute to the PAC, which is named Fellowship Unite.

Walker says he's never publicaly backed a certain candidate.

"I still don't see myself as 'political' as much as I do an advocate for people engaging in the political process," he says. "There's a difference. I'm not trying to push any political agenda. I'm not trying to publicly endorse any political candidate."

The group is, however, asking churches to get their members to take what they call the "Trinity Pledge," which involves getting three people to register to vote and making sure they follow through.

This is a multi-state effort with a goal of raising $75,000. Treasurer Jerry Maynard, a reverend and former Metro Council member, says the total raised so far stands at $25,000 and that the PAC will make the required disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.

Organizers say they're focused on swing states like Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. They also say they'll work in Tennessee, though Bishop Walker says he has doubts about whether his home state really could go either way.