Entertainment mogul Tyler Perry is helping finance a series of events throughout Florida starting Oct. 24 that will organize “Souls to the Polls” efforts reconfigured for social distancing during the coronavirus crisis and pledges to help turn out at least 250,000 Black voters.
In an effort largely funded by Perry, a writer, director, producer and actor, the Equal Ground Education Fund announced Thursday that it is spending $500,000 to organize “Park & Praise” events at sites in 25 counties, where people can come, drop off mail ballots, and share in entertainment and faith.
The drive-in efforts are being organized with the recognition that traditional “Souls to the Polls” events, busing voters from churches, are ill-advised during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the final two weekends leading up to Election Night, dozens of “Park & Praise” events will take place across the 25 counties. Attendees will be able to participate from the comfort of their own vehicles by pulling in, dropping off their vote by mail ballots, and hearing from local faith and community leaders, gospel choirs, elected officials, musical entertainment and political candidates.
The effort includes events at the Amway Center in Orlando the afternoon of Oct. 24 led by the Rev. Derick McRae of The Experience Christian Center; at the Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg Oct. 24, led by Bishop Manuel Sykes of that church; at the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office in Gainesville on Oct. 25 led by the Rev. Karl Anderson of the Upper Room Ministries; at the Legends Center in Jacksonville on Nov. 1 led by Bishop Reginald Gundy of Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church; and at the Doral Central Park in Doral on Nov. 1 led by the Rev. Alphonso J. Jackson, Jr. of the Greater New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.
Events also are being planned in Bay, Broward, Calhoun, Escambia, Gadsden, Gulf, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa, Seminole, Taylor, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington counties.
Equal Ground is a Florida-based, Black-led nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working on building Black political power in Florida.