BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA — With two days to go until Election Day, Doug Jones visited three black churches in Birmingham on Sunday to make a final pitch to African American voters. Roy Moore, who hasn’t made a public appearance in days, didn’t attend his own church services.
Flanked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Terry Sewell (D-AL), Jones spent the day working to convince black voters in the state’s biggest city that he is the only candidate who will represent voters of color.
In order to pull off a victory in Tuesday’s special election, Jones will need African American voters, who make up roughly a quarter of the state, to represent more than a quarter of the electorate. Meanwhile, Moore has made little effort to convince the state’s black population to vote for him — he recently told a black supporter that America was last great during the era of slavery.
“Look, what do you expect out of a person who hates black people, disrespects women, and thinks we need to be pregnant and in the kitchen?” Sheila Tyson, a Birmingham city councilor, told ThinkProgress Sunday outside Jones’ campaign headquarters.
Inside the building, Booker called Tuesday’s race “one of the most consequential elections in my lifetime” and invoked Birmingham’s history in the civil rights movement.
“I know this city literally taught the world what it means to stand up for your country’s values and ideals, even though people were trying to knock you down,” he said. “That’s who we are.”
Montgomery resident David Russell, who identified himself as an active member of the Alabama Democratic Party, said he thinks Jones could have done more to connect with black voters. But he still believes Jones’ outreach will be enough to win on Tuesday.
“I would have done more door knocking,” he said. “Every ten or 15 minutes I see an ad on the television, but when you’re dealing with African Americans, they like to see you. They want to be able to shake your hand and talk to you.”
Congregants of three Birmingham-area churches did get to meet Jones in person on Sunday. At the New Hope Baptist Church, Pastor Gregory Clarke told ThinkProgress that Jones is doing everything he should to turn out black voters.
“He’s been very visible in the communities, particularly with churches and congregations all across this state,” Clarke said. “It’s up to us, as pastors and civic leaders, to make it happen.”
Sandra Pratt attended services Sunday and said she was pleased to see Jones stop by to speak about the issues that have taken a back seat in this race, including Medicaid and health care for children. She said she thinks black voters will turn out in high numbers on Tuesday because of the high stakes of the race.
“We don’t want to sit back,” she said. “We want to move forward. And a lot of people are excited. They want to move forward, so they’re going to get out and vote.”
When Pratt was 11 years old, she spent 6 days in jail with her sister for participating in the civil rights marches. She said she has seen how far Alabama has come since then — and she wants to see the progress continue.
“You don’t want your kids to go through what you went through,” she said. “Bottom line, you’ve got to put Doug Jones in there.”