The Local Take: All Eyes on Georgia with Maynard Eaton
This is the last Saturday before the January 5th Georgia Senate Run-off elections. I reached out to Maynard Eaton, an Emmy award-winning local journalist, a journalism professor, and the current National Director of Communications for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to speak about what voting in a run-off election means.
Eaton shares that his family has relocated to Indianapolis, where his wife picked up work during the Pandemic. Like most of us, he's zooming, working remotely, and being careful of COVID-19.
I ask about Georgia's swing back blue in the presidential election. Eaton's take is summed up in two words Stacey Abrams. He speaks about Fair Fight Georgia's grassroots efforts throughout the state to educate, inform, and register voters. Eaton shares that the enthusiasm found in this culturally diverse coalition (African-Americans, Asians, Latino, and young voters) seems to have lasted through the early voting period. He speaks about citizens learning a hard lesson about what happens when everyone doesn't vote. Eaton correlates the pain of the citizenry to the expanded participation in the elections. He also speaks about the changing demographics in Georgia and how that is beginning to show in local and statewide elections. Tuesday, January 5, 2021, is Runoff Election Day. For more information on voting, go to mvp.sos.ga.gov.
The New York Times highlights the Black Voters Matter group in a recent magazine feature. That not only speaks about the history of voter suppression in our state but also how the "run-off" came to become law.
The Georgia state law adopting the run-off model was the brainchild of Denmark Groover Jr., a Democratic state representative and avowed segregationist who blamed "Negro bloc voting" for his 1958 election defeat. After returning to office four years later, he proposed legislation adopting the run-off model, which would limit the chances of candidates' splitting the votes of Georgia's white majority. One Georgia newspaper at the time described the law matter-of-factly as "a means of circumventing what is called the Negro bloc vote."
I ask Eaton if he thinks the on-demand absentee ballot request available during the Pandemic, which is also credited with the increased turn-out, will remain as our state leaders are already speaking about changing the law. He speaks about citizens' need to remain engaged and express their wishes to their state legislators.
Eaton shares his voting story speaking about voting in 1964 while a student at Hampton University.
Currently, Eaton hosts two TV shows, including the SCLC and Talk To Me, on the Atlanta Video Network.