As Election Day draws closer, and millions are already lining up to cast their ballots during the early voting cycle, more focused conversations targeting key demographic groups are being held ahead of the 2020 election. In a new forum from BET and The Collective, an organization focused on electing African-American candidates, several panelists participated in a discussion on Black men and the ballot.
The Black Men Voting Forum, moderated by activist, author and commentator Marc Lamont Hill, brought together Black men to share their experiences, address unique issues and talk about how they can be empowered for the future. The event will air 6 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 15) on several digital platforms including YouTube (The Collective PAC); Twitter (@collectivepac); and Facebook (/thecollectivepac), along with BET’s digital platforms.
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Joining Hill will be hip-hop artist Common; Stockton, Calif. Mayor Michael Tubbs; Black List Founder Franklin Leonard; author Darnell Moore; and author and activist Shaka Senghor.
“With less than 30 days to go before one of history’s most defining elections, it’s more critical than ever to empower Black Men to stand on the right side of history after November 3,” said Quentin James, co-founder of The Collective, in a statement. “As with the first event in the Vote to Live series, our aim is to help people deepen their engagement in the electoral process, build stronger connections to their communities and candidates, and empower an unyielding conviction that we are our own heroes with the power to change our democracy and our world for the better.”
According to Pew Research statistics 64 percent of eligible Black woman voters said they cast ballots in the 2016 election, compared with 54 percent of eligible Black men. But that doesn’t mean Black men are not stepping up to be a part of the electorate.
"I chafe at the notion that Black men aren't doing their part, which is often the subtext," said former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams in an interview with ABC News last month. "That's not true. But we can all do better and campaigns have to do a better job of reaching out and engaging communities, particularly Black men. These are voters who care about the future of our country."
For its part, the Biden-Harris campaign has launched a series of ads in crucial states targeting Black men along with its “Shop Talk” digital forums in which Black men participate in discussions of issues relevant to them.
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Grammy nominated Hip-hop artist Jeezy participated in one of the recent forums and noted why it’s important to him to cast his vote.
"I vote because we didn't have a voice, we didn't have to have an opinion," Jeezy said. "We just kind of had to go along with what was going on." Voting, he says, "gave me that much power; whether the person I want voted for won or not, [it] gave me a voice."
The Black Men Voting Forum is one of several initiatives being undertaken by The Collective in its “Vote To Live” campaign, which is intended to encourage young voters and people of color to get to the polls. Their previous event, “Black Women Leading The Revolution,” drew 100,000 viewers.