ABC11's Hometown Voices tour arrived in southeast Raleigh with four weeks until the midterm elections. Voting rights advocates, here, are still on a high.
They shouted, "victory!" last July as they celebrated the court decision allowing more than 56,000 North Carolinians on parole or probation -- but not currently in prison -- to register to vote.
"It's one of the largest voting expansions since 1965," said Diana Powell who was on the front lines of the three-year legal battle to restore those voting rights. Now, she's part of the team spreading the word to once disenfranchised voters on Raleigh's southeast side.
"It is a big deal. And we have to educate our community and help them understand the big deal that it is," Powell said. "They had no voice. But now they have a voice."
44 year old Phillip Crowder, a southeast Raleigh native, who spent 12 years in state and federal prison is in the midst of turning his life around. Newly-empowered with voting rights, Crowder says education is a big issue for him this election: the learning loss of young students from a heavy reliance on remote learning.
"I think I'd go back to manual teaching, after-school programs and things of that nature versus everything being on the computer," said Crowder.
HARD HIT BY COVID-19
Xavier Young spends his work week managing a COVID-19 testing site on North Tarboro Street. At the height of the pandemic, southeast Raleigh with its large population of Black and Brown residents was the state's largest COVID hotspot.
Young heads to the polls with an eye on reducing health care costs -- expanding Medicaid to more low-income residents.
"A lot of people are sad because it's not free. I've turned away a lot more people than I want to because they don't have insurance or they didn't know it cost. They weren't prepared to pay today," Young said.
EDUCATION AND POLICING
70-year-old retired Wake school teacher Hardrick Mayes will go to the polls next month lamenting the labor shortage at local schools.
"We're so short of educators, bus drivers," said Mayes who is spending his golden years volunteering with at-risk youth in southeast. An experience that is heightening his interest in restoring trust between police and the communities of color they serve.
"We need the police officers. We need them. And if we defund them, what about when something happens to my family. I need (the police)," Mayes said.
SE RALEIGH STILL MATTERS
One of Diana Powell's favorite slogans is "Southeast Raleigh still matters."
"It matters that you have people that do care about southeast Raleigh," she said.
Come November 8, this side of the Capital City will make its voices matter at the polls.