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The power of necessity

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"A black face that is mute in party councils is not political representation; the ability to be independent, assertive and respected when the final decisions are made is indispensable for an authentic expression of power."

Those words might not be the most often quoted of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s, but they are among the most prescient. This week, they can be seen--along with other writings by the slain civil-rights leader--on a colorful brochure called "Power Through the Ballot" being distributed in 50 cities at events marking King's birthday.

In North Carolina, the NAACP and N.C. Voters for Clean Elections have teamed up to produce and pass out the flyers as a way of kindling interest in voting-rights organizing and campaign-finance reform. Among the sparks are quotes from King's 1967 book, Where Do We Go From Here? and some pointed facts about elections in North Carolina.

F'rinstance:

In the Tar Heel state, 90 percent of all political donations come from less than 1 percent of the population.

95 percent of donors to congressional campaigns in the state are white; 81 percent have annual incomes of more than $100,000.

African-American candidates for the General Assembly raise, on average, only 40 percent as much as white candidates.

What would Dr. King have to say about all of that?

"We will have to do more than register and more than vote," he wrote in his book of four decades ago. "In the future, we must become intensive political activists. ... Necessity will draw us toward the power inherent in the creative use of politics."

For copies of the brochure, call the N.C. Voters for Clean Elections toll-free number, (877) 663-3257.

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