MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) — A political convention that helped elect the city’s first African-American mayor is back after a 28-year hiatus.
Organizers said Saturday’s event at the Paradise Entertainment Center is to mobilize people to pick a candidate that will represent the majority.
Earle Fisher, one of its organizers, said they’re looking for political transparency, accountability and civic engagement. The People’s Convention is put on by Up the Vote 901, founded by Fisher, which is a group dedicated to increasing voter turnout.
Fisher said the event is to mobilize 2,500 people for the Saturday event. Fisher didn’t elaborate on the layout or format of the event but said 20 candidates will be there to interact and engage with voters.
“For the last several years, we have seen a deeper disenfranchisement of so many people. Especially people of color, African-Americans. In the city of Memphis, that’s not exception so we needed to do what we could to get more political power, information and representation and more people,” Fisher said.
The convention was born out a 2,000-person survey on community issues, Fisher said.
Saturday, the convention will collectively pick “candidates of the people” they can support leading up to the October 3rd election.
“Hopefully this can be an opportunity for them to be branded as the people’s candidate because they will commit to an agenda that represents the will of the majority of the people,” Fisher said.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he would not be attending. His campaign released a statement that said, “we will be attending the people’s convention, it’s called Election Day.”
Strickland said the convention was a biased political rally. Fisher refuted that any candidate would get special treatment.
“I think that any candidate who made a conscious decision to not to attend, that is within their right and that is their prerogative. Nevertheless, I think that they should respond very concretely and thoroughly as to why they would balk or thumb their nose at over 2,000 people who participated in this survey,” Fisher said.
Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton also said he would not attend. Herenton did not immediately respond to Local 24 News’ request on why he’s not attending the same convention that helped get him elected in 1991.
The People’s Convention is free and open to the public. You can register to attend HERE.