Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project (NGP), a civic engagement and advocacy organization is an undeniable force in the area of voter registration. Through her organization, countless young people and people of color are continuing to registered to vote. Her efforts recently landed her on Glamour’s 2021 Women of the Year and on TIME Magazine’s TIME100 Next lists.
But don’t think she’s resting on her laurels. Ufot is more fired up than ever as the country approaches a mid-term election and Georgia voters head to the polls to decide who will be their next governor. Over the last several years Black women have risen to the surface as the key demographic to bringing viability to a campaign and subsequently winning elections. Black women are also claiming political seats and making key policy decisions. Ufot understands that without the backing of Black women, these voices would not exist. It’s why the activist and community organizer is so dedicated to conducting that real change-making groundwork.
Ufot recently spoke to EBONY about her passion for political activism and what she’s doing to ensure Georgia doesn’t see a repeat of 2018.
Why are you, personally, dedicated to this work?
Personally and professionally, I’ve held the standard that you speak up or act when you see something that is wrong or doesn’t feel right. That theme had influenced the bulk of my work. There are forces actively working to prevent working people, Black folks, people of color, and young people from thriving. They are tethered to upholding the lie of white supremacy and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain it. That means cheating and making sure our voices aren’t reflected in the electoral process.
I am dedicated to this work because I’ve witnessed what can happen if those forces can prevail. Trump happens. 2018 happens. The January 6th insurrection happens. I’ve also seen what this work can do. Through this work, we deliver historic voter turnout, a blue Georgia, this country’s first Black woman Vice President, and so many historical firsts. The American Rescue Plan (where 80% of US households got some emergency financial relief during the pandemic). The Affordable Care Act (where a record 31 million Americans have health insurance). I understand the power voters have and as our country becomes more diverse and younger, I understand the power people of color and young people have.
What has been the greatest hurdle in getting young people and people of color registered to vote?
Since the 2016 election, young voters have increased by 11 percent. However, we are in a current age of disinformation and misinformation coupled with multiple domestic and international crises.
Bad actors, both foreign and domestic, are not only regularly attacking the truth, but also our democratic and electoral institutions.
We’re actively working to dispel misinformation and encourage them to do the same. We’re doing an extraordinary amount of voter education in a culturally relevant and technologically engaged way. But the media landscape is noisy and with young people’s attention being divided among crises after crises, capturing young folks’ eyes, ears, and attention is a huge, difficult, and necessary task.
What are some ways the Black community outside of Georgia can rally around the voting efforts happening in the state?
I’m going to keep it simple and lean on my Black Church upbringing. We need your Time, your Talent, and/or your Treasure. We welcome and encourage folks to sign up and become NGPaf members today, or to find a political or organizing home near them. Find groups who share your values and are passionate about this moment and this effort. We have become a large organization with many moving parts because of the vast network of volunteers that power our work and play such a pivotal role in all of our campaigns. So, your voices and additional support to make sure young people and communities of color are able to participate in our elections.
To join us at the New Georgia Project visit our website at https://newgeorgiaproject.org/get-involved/. If you can’t physically volunteer, we encourage people to amplify our collective efforts and messaging. Follow us on our social platforms, like, share, retweet @newgaproject across all platforms.
Stacey Abrams is hoping to fulfill her dream of becoming the governor of Georgia. How are you actively making sure that the events of 2018 don't repeat themselves?
For one, we’re actively working to highlight and dispel droves of misinformation circulating. We continue to have legislators and others working to discredit Black women and their work. We saw it in 2018 and even more recently during Atlanta’s mayoral election. We’re going to see it during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings and with Nancy Abudu’s 11th Circuit confirmation. Combating right-wing disinformation campaigns in defense of American Democracy is essential if we are going to deliver America’s first Black woman governor. That’s why we’re doing mass voter education and mass voter mobilization. We’re
using all of the tools we have to not just prevent a 2018 repeat but to make sure that young people and people of color can participate in every election.
How has Georgia changed, politically since 2018? Georgia, like many states across the country, is becoming more and more racially and ethnically diverse. There are legislators who are terrified by this reality and are actively trying to defend the status quo. Voter suppression has always been an active player in Georgia, but Republicans know that the only way for them to hold on to their power is by cheating. Since 2018, we’ve helped register nearly 600,000 voters across Georgia. We helped deliver Democratic senators Raphael Warnock (the first African American) and Jon Ossoff (first Jewish and the youngest) to the US Senate. This is who Georgia is and the future of who we’ll be. Republicans recognize the work that we’re doing on the ground and across the country is working and fewer people are buying into the lies they continuously weaponize to maintain power.