Interview with Slim Coleman

Tell me about getting people to register.


In looking back and being real honest, I think that the most successful voter registration was done when people did it to defend themselves, not necessarily to elect a candidate. Whether it was they were trying to defend their rights to get public aid, ah, they were trying to defend their housing, defend their education and all for those kind of issue campaigns, where people were really defending basically their economic rights or the rights to self determination in the face of the kind of racial insults and discrimination that they faced under the Byrne Administration. When they wanted, when they wanted to defend themselves, ah, then they registered to vote. And they really, that really was talked about on the street. It wasn't so much, we can win this seat, ah, that came about really after Harold was elected, people started talking like that but the first and most massive voter registration was, if we don't get registered to vote, they're going to continue to disrespect us. They're going to continue to walk over our basic economic rights and rights to self determination, so we got to register, ah, I guess people got, people registration was a way not to be invisible. And in that sense, large numbers of people responded. More people responded to that point of view of registering, registering to vote really as a method of self defense, to become invisible, to, ah, get respect, ah, then ever were registered to elect a particular candidate.