Virginia New Majority, a civil rights group, has launched a campaign to get 20,000 immigrant and African-American voters to the polls to help elect progressive legislators in Virginia this November.

Dozens of activists from across the nation have arrived in Virginia prior to the Aug. 23 primary to begin knocking on doors. They spoke to 300 potential voters Tuesday night about immigration reform and the possibility of uranium mining in Southside Virginia.

“These voters are a sleeping giant in Virginia,’’ said Tenelle Pierce, who traveled from New York. “It looks to me like the population has changed a lot and if all these residents decide to take action, they can have a state government that really cares about them and some genuine democracy.”

The so-called Southern Solidarity Summer is expected to reach more than 20,000 voters, starting with the Northern Virginia district of Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax), elected in a special election in 2010.

“We have our eyes set on the 2012 election and beyond,” program coordinator Sara Wallace-Keeshen said. “The presidential and congressional elections next year are high-stakes for Virginians. But more importantly, we believe that a progressive movement in Virginia is what can save our state in the long-term. That’s what we’re going to build, starting right here.”