Valerie Joiner registers a voter outside a Walgreens in East Austin.
Southwest Key’s own Valerie Joiner was profiled Sunday in the Austin-American Statesman for her arduous work at registering East Austinites to vote through the East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative (EAVMI). The EAVMI, created in 2010 by Southwest Key Programs, is comprised of East Austin Latino, African American, and immigrant community organizations joining forces with citywide organizations for an unprecedented multi-ethnic, multi-cultural collaborative effort to get the vote out in East Austin. Valerie has taken the helm for Southwest Key and made it her goal to register 500 voters by Oct. 9, the last day to register Travis County voters for the November elections.
Valerie tells the Statesman‘s Reshma Kirpalani that it was her grandfather, Tom McKenzie, who influenced her to become passionate about voter registration and civic involvement.
Two years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, an 11-year-old Joiner slipped into her best walking shoes and paired up with her grandfather as he knocked on front doors in Vero Beach, [Florida]. McKenzie strained against the continued oppression of his all-black community by persuading his neighbors to exercise their right to vote.
“Granddaddy was really good,” Joiner says. “He knew everybody, and everybody knew him. He would shake a hand and say, ‘Are you registered to vote?’ And they would say, ‘No, Mr. Tom, I don’t think so.’ And he would say, ‘Well you need to!’ He was adamant.”
Valerie Joiner and East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative coordinator Daniel Llanes register voters at the Travis County Correctional Complex.
One of the EAVMI’s goals is to register eligible inmates in Travis County. The Statesman followed Valerie and coalition coordinator Daniel Llanes (pictured) through the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle as they registered 36 out of an eligible 155 people. “They’re Americans too,” Joiner says “Anybody can fall. Every one of us can make a mistake. And because they’re human, they deserve a second chance.”
To read the entire article on Valerie Joiner’s work on voter registration in East Austin, click over to the Austin American-Statesman.