Minority leaders in Nevada used the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday to launch a campaign aimed at getting more minorities to the polls on Election Day.
The Nevada Voter Empowerment 2004 program marks a collaborative effort with churches, schools, community groups and state branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to educate minorities on issues and get them to vote, organizers said.
"It is not enough to get people registered, you have to get them to the polling booths," said Dean Ishman, NAACP Las Vegas branch president. "When we as a people register, the politicians will hear our voices."
Parishioners were urged to register to vote during King tributes Sunday at the Victory Baptist Church in Las Vegas and the Second Baptist Church in Reno.
"Our goal is to get every eligible African American in the state registered, educated on the issues and to the polls," Lonnie Feemster, state coordinator for the NAACP's National Voter Fund effort, said in a written statement.
"We will particularly focus on low income, communities of color and young voters to see that those who are many times forgotten are included and have their vote counted," he said.
Program organizers said they will set up voter registration location at historically black churches throughout the state, and anywhere else they can find support.
"Our families struggled and died for a right that is sometimes taken for granted," said Rose Gordon, president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP.
"We look to our national leaders and ask, 'Where have the gains of our struggles gone?' Too many still struggle and too many are still unprepared for the challenges they face.
"It is our responsibility to get out the vote and make it count," she said.