Coalition Building 101 in Oklahoma – Rock the Native Vote
Out in Oklahoma, Rock the Native Vote (RNV) knows that you won’t be able to have a lot of success if you try to go it alone. It’s this knowledge that informs their strategy of aggressive coalition building with other organizations of color.
“It’s such a blessing to be able to work in solidarity with a community that faces and understands so many of our problems,” says RNV’s Executive Director Rev. David Wilson. “We share so many of the same stories and we can build a powerhouse coalition when we stand together.”
For RNV, this work has focused on connecting with the nearly 40 Indian tribes that call Oklahoma home, the burgeoning Hispanic population, and the Indian Methodist Churches that litter the state.
One major partner is Voto Latino, a non-profit organization focused on amplifying the electoral power of the Latinx community. Together the two organizations held a wildly successful National Voter Registration Day Event that featured dancing, food, a Ferris wheel, and the Mayor of Oklahoma City declaring the day a city holiday.
Tabling at community events is a staple of RNV’s voter engagement strategy, making sure to offer interested individuals free civic engagement swag and making sure they have all they need to vote.
They are also planning a candidate forum in their parking lot, to give community members a chance to hear directly from aspiring politicians and an aggressive ‘voter plan’ strategy to make sure everyone has a plan for the election and to encourage early voting as much as possible.
One of RNV’s secret ingredients for their civic engagement is their deep ties to the Indian Methodist Church, where Wilson is a clergyman. The Church has been a staple in the Native American community in the area for nearly 200 years and has spread quickly while placing deep roots in the community. This allows RNV to expand their civic engagement efforts all around the state.
“We have church members everywhere in Oklahoma,” says Wilson. “Anywhere in the state we need to organize, we have options to work with. Not only that, but the church has a level of trust within the community that can’t be matched. It’s so important that these messages about voting come from someone you trust.”