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Tyler Perry funds Florida “Souls to the Polls” events to increase Black voter turnout

Tyler Perry and the Equal Ground Education Fund are hoping to target 250,000 Black voters.

Tyler Perry Desiree Navarro | WireImage | Getty Images

Tyler Perry is backing a campaign that he hopes will drive potential Black voters to the polls ahead of Election Day. The billionaire has linked with the Equal Ground Education Fund to fund “Souls to the Polls” efforts.

“Souls to the Polls” — drives where people go from Sunday church services to casting their ballots — have helped to increase Black voter turnout and were key elements of Barack Obama’s voter outreach campaign in 2008. Starting Oct. 24 and leading up to Election Day, the events will be retooled as socially distanced voter outreach efforts complete with gospel music and sermons.

The “Park & Praise” events will be held in 25 counties across Florida. As the crowd is entertained by gospel choirs, entertainment and speeches from community leaders and elected officials, voters will be able to drop off their mail-in ballots.

Perry and the Equal Ground Education Fund are hoping to pull in over 250,000 Black voters.

“A national pandemic, racial tensions, blatant disregard for Black bodies and a presidential election that can’t be won without the votes of Black folks have shaped the way we connect with voters,” said Equal Ground Education Fund Founder Jasmine Burney-Clark. “Despite Florida’s historical disenfranchisement of Black voters, our voices will be heard whether we vote by mail or early. Our work to provide robust voter education and ensure that accurate information reaches our communities is the highest priority and is what this partnership with Tyler Perry is going to do.”

Events are currently being planned in Bay, Broward, Calhoun, Escambia, Gadsden, Gulf, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, Santa Rosa, Seminole, Taylor, Volusia, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.

Perry is the latest celebrity to boost early voting. Michelle Obama and LeBron James are also encouraging people to vote before Nov. 3.

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