South Carolina African-American Chamber urges black voters to `keep an open mind`

Published: May. 5, 2015 at 11:19 AM EDT|Updated: May. 15, 2015 at 12:12 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As the 2016 presidential primaries approach, the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce is encouraging African-American voters to consider both parties when choosing the next president.

In a recent announcement,the non-partisan chamber said, "It's no secret that African Americans almost always vote Democratic."

The group believes it's important for every citizen to know the plan and perspective of each candidate.

"Our choices may reflect leadership representation across lines of political affiliation," said Chamber board member Dr. Regina E. Wragg. "When our choices are informed, we are best equipped to hold our leaders accountable to the privilege of our civic support."

The main reason for the push, according to the chamber, is for voters to look at candidates who campaign against police brutality and support issues such as fairness in the workplace and equal pay.

So far two Democrats and five Republicans have announced their run for the presidency and the field is expected to get more crowded over the next few months.

The African American Chamber of Commerce says black voters should consider both parties.

Stephen Gilchrist, the president of the Chamber, says the Palmetto State is the perfect example of why voters should keep an open mind.

"In South Carolina we have the first minority and female governor in the state," Gilchrist said. "We also have in the state the first black Senator since Reconstruction. Those are some very significant firsts on the Republican side of the aisle that African Americans can no longer just stay silent about."

In the coming weeks the group plans to develop a questionnaire to educate black voters and candidates on their call. It will be sent to the community and candidates as an outlet for both sides to voice their concerns. It's a tool the chamber believes is needed.

"It begins to at least create an agenda in our community for both sides of the house at least to consider," said Gilchrist.

The questionnaire will be distributed to voters prior to the primaries.

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