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Carlisle speaks on passions and plans

Rev. Alvin Carlisle has been a champion for social justice in the city of Winston-Salem.

Carlisle speaks on passions and plans
February 13
08:45 2020

Rev. Alvin Carlisle is the senior pastor of Exodus United Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Carlisle is also the president of the local NAACP chapter and has dedicated his life to addressing inequality in education, poverty and many other issues plaguing the underprivileged residents of the Triad area.

Carlisle has also been pushing for more voter participation for the local and national elections this year. Recently, he sat down with The Chronicle to speak on his current agendas, along with what fuels his passion.

The Chronicle: What issues have you and the local NAACP chapter focused on recently?

Carlisle: Right now, the big thing for us is being involved in the voter ID case. It’s been the biggest thing we have been dealing with, which of course runs right up on voting season. And we also have the injunction for the primary that we have back in court right now, trying to make sure, at least through the 2020 general election, that voter ID won’t be law here in North Carolina.  

We have definitely been out trying to engage voters to make sure they understand that piece. Voter registration is always a big part of what we do every election cycle to make sure we get people registered to vote. One of the biggest things we have found out is that while many people are registered, they are not coming out to the polls, so part of what we have done is work with other organizations to make sure the issues were discussed in the community so people will feel necessary to engage in this process and not feel disenfranchised.  

We have really been pushing issue awareness, getting people to know the candidates and what’s at stake. It’s not just about the national election, but more importantly about our local offices, making sure people understand what’s on the ballot like the tax to supplement teacher pay.

The Chronicle: Can you touch on how instrumental the candidate forums have been to not only bring the voters out, but to give a closer look at the candidates people will potentially be voting for?

Carlisle: The turnout on those have been very good and the conversations have been very engaging. We have really had the opportunity to talk about where the candidates stand and for the people to voice what their issues are. Of course, they will want a candidate that will be on the right side of the issues they are concerned about.

The Chronicle: What motivated you to take on a cause such as voter registration and why is it so important to you?

Carlisle: Especially in this season, we see a government now that is not representative of the people. The reason why is not because people with these extremist views outnumber us, they just vote at a higher rate. Time and time again, it’s been proven that what we are seeing in Washington and even in our own state house is not the will of the people. Because of that, I’ve been thinking that if our people would just come out and vote, we could really vote out this stuff that is going on. I am just trying to really get people to understand that real change, even with gerrymandering and these repressive laws coming out of Raleigh, only happens because we aren’t showing up at the poll. I just want people to understand that we can make a difference, but we need to come out. Stats show that when we show up in numbers, change happens.

The Chronicle: The Souls to the Polls event is coming up soon. Can you touch on how important events like this are?

Carlisle: Years ago, black leaders really got behind the Souls to the Polls. Initially it was a Sunday event, where people got together after church to march to the polls, to go and vote. It was really championed in our community and many people who hadn’t been engaged found themselves engaged in the political process. So many of us that remember those days and the effectiveness wanted to return back to that old tried and true method of reaching out and bringing everybody together. We are rallying at the Enterprise Center and we will be marching down to the Anderson center. We feel that it’s important for everyone that participates in early voting to try and utilize that site, because we don’t want to lose it again, so we are targeting that location.

The Chronicle: Your passion for social justice and equality are very evident in all you do. Has that always been a passion of yours?

Carlisle: The things that I am most passionate about and that concern me in the city is our dilapidated education system and poverty. They run neck and neck and probably go hand in hand. I think the existence of poverty on this level in a country that’s as wealthy as ours and in a city that is progressing and building and growing as fast as ours is alarming. To have the level of poverty we have, to have this great divide, these two Winston-Salems is concerning.  

I ride down 52 and look to my right and see the Innovation Quarter and the lights shining and just to my left I see generational poverty, lack of growth and lack of advancement. I am passionate about everyone getting their fair share. People believe in a capitalistic society, you have to have the very rich and the very poor, but I really believe in Winston-Salem we could work together to build an economy that everyone has a decent paying job to take care of their families and children shouldn’t go to bed hungry and a big part of that is quality education for every kid.

The Chronicle: With it being Black History Month and we think back on the equality Dr. King spoke about, what do we as a city need to do for us to get closer to King’s ultimate dream?

Carlisle: The city really needs to engage and invest in the upward mobility of black folks and I think the largest opportunities are to work with citizens on increasing the level of black home ownership and to work with black entrepreneurs who are trying to start small businesses. We need programs that speak to that. Dr. King was passionate about that and there are still some leaders in our city that don’t understand the systemic oppression that has happened to our people for so long, even in a psychological way, that has put us so far behind. I think those that have benefited from this oppression for generations should be responsible for providing support and educational needs.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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