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Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote “Culture of Democracy” Summit brought together leaders across industries from musicians to grassroots organizers to emphasize how crucial our right to vote is. The event arrived just on time given the current political moment in America as we witness our rights being challenged. Though voters may feel uncertain, When We All Vote Executive Director Stephanie L. Young encouraged us to step away from the mentally that our vote doesn’t matter.
“It’s so important that we have folks that believe in democracy, making sure that we’re able to all make our voices heard. Sitting it out isn’t an option,” said Young. “We have to know that voting is a gateway into a longer pathway of civic engagement.”
Young also noted that most of our elections are on local and state levels. With governors and mayors running in the midterm elections, Young says it’s important that voters get involved now to see the immediate changes they desire. The culture of our democracy is curated by the people and reflects who we are as a country. Though, right now, our democracy is being threatened from all angles.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledged it is easier to look away from the pending decision on Roe v Wade or the mass shootings or even the legislative war against Black and LGBT books. However, looking away doesn’t mean these issues can’t meet us at our front door.
“If you recognize that protecting and expanding our democracy is the best and only path out of this mess, I think we all can agree that we need to stop playing the same old song. We need a strategy,” she said in her keynote. “No one has the luxury to sit out or stay at home just because you’re not feeling good enough. If you don’t vote, other people will.”
Young echoed Obama’s point, suggesting two strategies to protecting the right to vote is making sure people have equal access to the ballot box and passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. She hoped this summit would bring some excitement to voters who needed a boost to get them to the polls.
“I hope [the summit] reminds people that the power is always with the people. But we have to make sure that we’re doing our part and not allowing folks in power to to make all the decisions. It’s really on us,” said Young.