Many Americans, especially those of minority or underrepresented groups, believe that their votes do not matter. Be Woke.Vote was created to change that misconception. Founded by movie director Deon Taylor and producer Roxanne Avent Taylor as a nonpartisan initiative, Be Woke.Vote is a movement geared toward encouraging people of color and historically underrepresented groups, especially those within the millennial and Gen Z generations, to better understand and engage in the election process, whether through casting their votes in elections or expressing their voices in other ways. The organization also offers assistance with registering to vote, voting by mail and knowing where to vote in person.
Numerous celebrities, newsmakers and high-profile executives are involved in the cause, including Trey Songz, Saint, Terrence J and Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners Robert F. Smith. Thanks to the support of Smith, who is an executive producer of the initiative, and many others, the organization has been able to arrange a number of events throughout the year to help those underserved and underrepresented while promoting the message of their cause.
Podcasts and Video Series
Since its creation in 2018, the Be Woke.Vote initiative has helped tens of thousands of Americans register and learn where and how to vote through the use of online and radio campaigns. As part of their web campaigns, Be Woke.Vote produces podcast series: “The Messy Truth With Van Jones” and “Roland Martin Unfiltered.” These podcasts are geared towards engaging, educating and entertaining new voters. In fact, the Be Woke.Vote podcast series, in combination with the group’s online efforts, were so successful and innovative, they were nominated for a Webby Award in 2019 and honored with another Webby Award that same year.
“Black History in Two Minutes (or so),” which is a video series recorded in short segments that touch upon important aspects of the African American experience, was also launched by Be Woke.Vote to help further their cause. These episodes are executively produced by Smith, along with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., Dyllan McGee and Deon Taylor, and are published on Facebook and YouTube every Friday.
The Be Woke.Vote initiative has also taken to the streets to appeal to young voters in person across the country. They organized a 10 city tour, traveling to Atlanta, Houston, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Miami, Cleveland, Charlotte, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, in order to reach thousands of young voters in many major cities before election day.
On the Houston leg of the Be Woke.Vote Tour WWE legend Booker T. Huffman and his wife Sharmell joined. Huffman had this to say about the event: “Living in America and seeing the things we’re seeing, that’s what moved me to be part of something like this. My kids are going to grow up in this world, and I want them to be in a better place than we are right now at this time. And I want that for wrestling fans, too.”
In Minneapolis, the tour members did all they could to assure residents that their voices matter and that they should vote. “I think a lot of people are disenfranchised as it relates to voting thinking their voice won’t matter – we’ve heard this around the country, but your voice and your vote does matter,” said Verona Jones, the event manager of the Be Woke.Vote tour stop.
But the tour is not the only way the Be Woke.Vote movement has engaged with young voters in their hometowns. In mid-October in Charlotte, NC, Be Woke.Vote members organized a march to encourage more people of color to vote. In reference to the march, Pastor Kenneth Robinson stated, “So how do we change that? Just protesting — that’s one part. We change it by voting, so people understand that things are affecting minorities. And the way to affect the system is voting.”
Funder and executive producer of Be Woke. Vote, Robert F. Smith, also had some positive remarks about voting, Be Woke.Vote and their street efforts close to the election: “I’m so proud of my brother Deon Taylor and all the amazing work that he, Roxanne Avent and the Be Woke.Vote team are doing across the country to educate and empower the culture. Everyone, please stand and let your voices be heard. It is your right.”
Voting doesn’t just happen every four years, so it’s important to keep registering voters and learning about local elections. To learn more about registering to vote, voting by mail or finding a place to vote in person, visit the Be Woke.Vote Facebook page.