Not since MTV’s “Rock the Vote” has a specific campaign made such a well-focused attempt to attract young voters as the one begun this year by the Black Youth Vote organization. Instead of focusing on lectures and TV ads, it sent out CD’s with “get-out-the-vote” messages, set-up registration rallies with food, music and step-shows and brought it all to universities across the country. It’s truly commendable to see an organization on a national level that cares about getting college students to vote.
Black Youth Vote is a group focused on getting 18 to 24-year-old black students, especially women, on university campuses to vote. Events have taken place at universities throughout the South, including some in Florida. Their political message is clear: Keep the balance between right and leftwing politics, and make your voice heard. The new campaign was started by Rev. Joseph Lowery, who, when telling reporters how the group came up with the campaign said, ” … somebody said, ‘Well, they listen to rap.’ I said then, ‘Let’s rap, baby. Let’s rap.'”
Their focus is especially important this year because if the Democrats can gain six seats in the house, two black congressmen, Charles Rangel and John Conyers, are next in line to chair the Ways and Means and Judiciary committees, respectively. Eighteen other African Americans could become committee chairs.
Another driving force was the fact that 51.3 percent of the 3.8 million black youths, ages 18-24 were not registered to vote in 2000, and of the 1.8 million who were registered, 68.5 percent did not vote. It was the lowest age-group voter turnout in history, according the U.S. Census. The group is especially focused on young black women, who comprise 6 percent of the total electorate, as opposed to black men’s 4 percent.
Black Youth Vote is a good campaign and, hopefully, innovative leaders like Rev. Lowery and his colleagues will branch out with their campaign to include all young voters and even come to USF.