After a drop in turnout in the 2016 election compared to 2012, turnout among Black voters in 2020 increased. This followed the work of many organizations and influential leaders, from grassroots groups to national political figures, who fought to ensure that Black voters across the country made their voices heard and were able to participate in the political process. This was particularly important in 2020 which saw changes to voting methods with the addition of more voting by mail, new early voting opportunities in many districts and a push to register voters and fight disinformation online.
Heading into the election, many Black voters considered racism and policing to be among their top issues, according to a June 2020 Washington Post-Ipsos Poll. This survey came on the heels of late-spring and summer protests across the country against police brutality and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Robert F. Smith has been a leading voice on these concerns in America, including his statement about the killing of George Floyd earlier this year, and his work as a Founding Partner of the REFORM Alliance in 2019.
One organization that was particularly active in registering Black voters and educating them about complex and unique voting regulations and processes in the lead up to November is Be Woke.Vote. The group — supported by Smith — was able to reach Black voters throughout the country and assist them in registering, helping to increase the overall Black turnout.
Be Woke.Vote also released “Black History in Two Minutes” podcast episodes in the leadup to the election. Each weekly episode takes just two minutes to explore and explain different aspects of the historical Black experience. They’re narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and executive produced by Robert F. Smith.
Smith himself shared the progress of Be Woke.Vote’s work on Instagram, and included a quote from the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a noted figure in the civil rights movement who made it his life’s work to ensure Black representation and voting access, “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.”
Learn more about Be Woke.Vote’s work on their website and see what they’re working on as we head into the next election cycle.