As we head into the final stretch of a major election, we are uniquely aware of the challenges many in our communities face when attempting to make their voices heard at the ballot box. Over the past several years, we know that conservatives have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s assault on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to pass legislation which effectively bars many people of color, formerly incarcerated people, differently-abled people, as well as Transgender and Queer people from casting a vote. Furthermore, we know that formal democratic participation remains limited to those born in this country or naturalized — and that it excludes undocumented people.
Grounding ourselves in that knowledge, YP4 is committed to building a movement of young change agents who can push back on these barriers to full democratic participation and build a future where we can all survive and thrive.
This June, we convened a Civic Engagement and Vote Summit for a group of incoming 2016 YP4 Fellows passionate about working to build long-term political power in their communities. They worked with partner organizations to think through the implications of Voter ID laws and to deconstruct the increasingly corrosive effects of money in politics. Additionally, our Fellows learned best practices from YP4 alumni around getting folks and keeping folks engaged in civic engagement organizing for the long haul. As YP4 Fellows, staff, Alumni, and partners, we used our time together to build a movement which looks beyond traditional “get out the vote” organizing to strategically engage a system which bars many of us from even entering a voting booth. Before we closed that Summit, we collectively agreed that we must continue those dialogues with the friends, family members, and co-conspirers we would return to.
So, we brought out a camera and recorded members of the YP4 Civic Engagement and Vote Program–laying it all on the line. We captured our YP4 Fellows and Alumni speaking their own truth to power and upsetting antiquated models of electoral organizing in the process — and weren’t they powerful. That’s why, for the next three months, we’ll release a video every week of our young folks’ speaking about the importance of working through voter education and engagement to shift the balance of power in this country.
So, while not all of us can vote, we know that when members of the YP4 family act in support of one another, leveraging the power and vision of our communities, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. That’s why, #YP4Votes. Follow on with our hashtag and join us!