The Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church of Indianapolis, Indiana is using a stark reminder of the past to motivate congregants to vote, displaying a graphic photo of a lynching on the roadside in front of the church.
In the past–still within the living memory of some members of the community–lynchings were used to discourage black people from exercising their civil and political rights–not just in the South but in Indiana, too.
Today, that past is being used to remind black voters of the cost at which their right to vote was established and secured in an effort to stave off low voter turnout.
The community around the church, on the east side of Indianapolis, is overwhelmingly black, and is represented in Congress by Rep. André Carson (D-IN), who helped promote false accusations that the Tea Party had used the N-word at its anti-Obamacare rally in March 2010.
Though the church’s poster is not explicitly aimed at encouraging people to vote for Obama, that is one likely implication–even though lynchings were historically carried out with the tacit approval of Democratic segregationists in the old South, who opposed both Reconstruction and the civil rights movement. The lynching depicted on the poster occurred in Marion, IN in 1930.
A similar message has been used in recent weeks by the Obama campaign itself, with Vice President Biden telling black voters in Virginia that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.” The mainstream media, casting the Tea Party and Republicans in general as racists, has played into the meme. With the election coming down to the wire, some liberal commentators are wondering openly whether racism will sway the election for Romney.
It is a fear not grounded in reality–but one that may prove useful in motivating Democrats to come to the polls. If anything, racism–and hyperbolic fears of racism–are not obstacles for Obama and his party, but tools to rally support.