Less than a week after an election night that raised concerns for Democrats, Hip Hop Caucus is setting its eyes on the 2022 midterm elections, determined to get more Black Americans to the ballot box.
Founded in 2004, the non-profit, non-partisan organization has, for years, leaned on Hip Hop culture to inform and educate voters on the importance of making their voice heard. One year out from another crucial election, the org has launched their Respect My Vote! campaign.
“Black voters decided the election in 2020, and they will be just as critical in 2022,” Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus said in a press release shared with EBONY. “In a democracy, there are no off years―all of the issues which matter most to us are on the line: combating the climate crisis, protecting voting rights, and standing up for economic justice. This is why we must ensure wherever elections are happening, Black voters are given the resources they need to show up. Every fight we are fighting relies on our ability to vote.”
Following the 2020 elections, over a dozen states, including Texas and Georgia, passed restrictive voting rights measures. These suppression efforts have been largely criticized for the disproportionate impact they have on Black voters—voters who have time and time again, determined the outcome of elections. And while political tactics have worked and continue to be effective in repressing votes, Hip Hop Caucus is set on reaching previously disenfranchised voters, to bring more decision makers into the fold.
During this election cycle, Hip Hop Caucus says one of the key demographics they are targeting with the Respect My Vote! Campaign is returning citizens who have previously been incarcerated or convicted of a felony. Disinformation has largely kept formerly incarcerated individuals from registering to vote because they believe past felony convictions have led to a permanent revocation of this right. Hip Hop Caucus’ new Respect My Vote! voting tool is aimed at guiding these individuals to making a determination of eligibility.
With so much at stake for the community, and Black women in particular, the registration of new voters will prove pivotal. “Black women continue to create their own lanes for obtaining true freedom in America, and they know that voting is a crucial step toward liberation for all of us,” Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus tells EBONY. “There is so much on the line in this year’s election from fighting to combat the maternal health crisis disproportionately impacting Black women, standing up against the restrictions on women’s reproductive rights to combating the extreme rates of Black women being incarcerated. We are working to ensure Black women are given the resources needed in order to ensure their voices are heard at the polls.”