Voting is Cool

Lincoln Center Atrium listening to Ish

On September 27, 2016, a day of the first presidential debate, NYC Votes in conjunction with The Youth Poets Laureate hosted an event aimed getting teenage persons of color to register vote.

The event featured presentations from four past Laureate winners, a host and DJ from AMP 92.3, and representatives from NYC Votes talking about the effect of the young vote, especially from persons of color and why they should vote on November 8th.

It felt like they wanted to make voting…cool.

The event felt “relatable” to youth voters as Manuel Galan, a representative from AMP 92.3 pointed out. As you entered you were greeted with a red carpet and a cardboard Barack Obama to take pictures with. Next, a table with red, white and blue bead necklaces and USA party hats; finally an atrium that had blue tinted lights and a stage where the DJ was playing the latest hip-hop hits.

There was no doubt this event was directed towards a younger crowd that “doesn’t turn out to the polls as they should be” Manuel Galan said. “It starts with this it, starts with the polls, it starts with creating a voice that needs to be heard.”

Group photo of everyone at the event

Wilbur Childs, the Youth Voter Coordinator for NYC Votes, focused on the fact that New York is so diverse and especially among the Hispanic and Black community. The point of the event is to get these groups who often don’t vote, to do just that, vote.

“The black and Latino vote is as powerful as you can go” Manuel Galan.

Voting by the young black community was the main theme of the night, Ish, a Brooklyn rapper and 2012 Youth Poet Laureate winner, says this event helps to “raise awareness…not only about voter registration, but voting rights.”

Ish, 2012 Poet Laureate, rapping

In the primary election Brooklyn residents experienced numerous problems, as reported by CNN, that saw residents switched from Democrat to Republican, and some voters just completely wiped out from the system.

In addition to voter’s rights Ish mentioned that young voters need to remember that they “ have a presence and you have a voice to contribute to how we govern ourselves here.”

With the presidential election close to a month away and the voter registration deadline two weeks away, this event sheds light on why it’s important for millennials to vote. Poetry pieces by four past New York Poet Laureate winners emphasized the value of a vote mentioning that “every penny counts”, comparing your vote to a penny.

2014 Youth Poet Laureate performing “Pennies”

“It allows me to cope…its outlet get [my] feelings out” said a past Poet Laureate on why he writes.

Following the poetry performances the DJ continued to play music as those in attendance began to leave with voter registration forms and AMP 92.3 merchandise in their hands.

Voter Registration day was two weeks and four days away from the day of this event and Wilbur Childs was excited about the events NYC Votes had coming up including, a Day of Action on October 1st and the Youth Poet Laureate Finals in December.

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