Benson advising Black voting rights group led by LeBron James

    Lebron James, USA Olympic Men's Basketball player, listens to the National Anthem prior to the start of the USA versus Dominican Republic exhibition game July 12, 2012, at the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.| U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes
    Updated, 1:27 p.m. 6/11/20 with comments from Benson

    Basketball great LeBron James and other stars announced Wednesday the formation of a new group dedicated to getting African Americans to register to vote and combatting voter suppression. James said he was inspired to take action after the death of George Floyd last month at the hands of Minneapolis police.

    “Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told the New York Times. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”

    Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Mackinac Island, May 30, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

    Others involved in the 501(c)(4) nonprofit More Than a Vote are Trae Young, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Detroit native Jalen Rose.

    One of the group’s advisers is Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the state’s top election official. Before being elected in 2018, Benson headed the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). One of her major initiatives was to launch RISE to VOTE, a nonpartisan effort to register professional and college athletes to vote. Last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tapped Benson to lead the first-in-the-nation Task Force on Women in Sports.

    “I am proud to be advising this important initiative and thankful to LeBron James, Draymond Green, Jalen Rose and many others who are stepping up to use their time, voices and platforms to inform and educate voters about their rights,” Benson told the Advance. “This year more than ever voters will be inundated with misinformation aiming to confuse them about and discourage them from voting. James, Green, Rose and their partners are trusted voices uniquely able to cut through the rhetoric and make sure all communities know not just that they should vote but how to vote to make sure their ballot is counted.”*

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.