“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Our Next Generation High School Connection teens have been exercising their civic duty with partner community leader Roshi Lawrence. Graduate of Marquette University, Roshi Lawrence has been working on political campaigns since the age of 16. Sparking the interest of High School Connection, it started with an invitation to see Michelle Obama speak on a rainy October day and sprouted to Roshi speaking to the teens about his life story and sharing how to make calls for GOTV. Now with the skills learned at Turn Up Our Voice, Turn Out Our Vote Summit, middle school and high school teens will actively canvass with Roshi Lawrence November 1st to ensure a “Party at the Polls” with college teens turning out to vote Tuesday, November 4th.
Running the clock down to the last 19 days of voter awareness, Our Democracy 2020 rallied 150 young people at a two day youth summit entitled Turn up Our Voice, Turn out Our Vote. Groups like Our Next Generation, Wisconsin Boys & Girls Club, James Madison High School, Urban Underground, North Division, and UW-Milwaukee made a resounding noise about the issues that mattered most to them:
· Protect Your Voting Rights, Reclaim Our Democracy--Jon Sherman, Fair Elections Legal Network & Erika Wolf, Wisconsin Voices
· Tuition Equity for Undocumented Students—Kika Miraz, Sean Orr – Youth Empowered in the Struggle
· School to Prison Pipeline- Sharlen Moore—Urban Underground
Housed at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center, young people found a safe space to not only share life experiences, but learn the importance of their voice through entertainment. Featured speakers like Muhibb Dyer ignited the young flames to protect their environment by taking back their “streets” with their political activism. Up and coming spoken word artists like Miss Dia and Dizz Flatline expressed the importance of having a “village” raise Milwaukee’s youth.
Young adults like Aisha Carr, James Madison High School Boys & Girls Club Manager, shared: “Learning should not be limited to the classroom. My students walked away from this experience knowing that they have a voice and they have rights. They walked away knowing and believing in the power of acceptance and freedom; although they may not be eligible to vote just yet, they will strive harder to encourage those that are able to vote, to exercise their rights of freedom of speech”
Day two, young adults participated in a luncheon with elected officials including County Supervisor David Bowen, Alderman Justin Moralez of Cudahy, and State Representative Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point. These officials, under 30, shared their experience of working young in the political arena. Activating helpful skills to encourage others to vote, young people participated in a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) skills training workshop.
When sharing his “why” for the inaugural opening of Turn Up Our Voice, Turn Out Our Vote, Mike Wilder, TUTOY Summit Coordinator commented,” The November 4th Election will be one of the most important elections in the history of our state. It is time for our voices to be heard, and for young people to take our rightful place in shaping Wisconsin’s Future.” #WhatIveLearned