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Creating A New South

The full episode transcript for The Power of the Black Vote: Creating A New South.

Transcript

Into America

The Power of the Black Vote: Creating a New South

Trymaine Lee: (DRUM ROLLING) This week marks the final stop of our HBCU tour on The Power of the Black Vote. We're in the Black mecca, Atlanta, home of three of the most prestigious historically Black colleges and universities, Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta.

(CROWD VOICES)

You're listening now to Clark's Mighty Marching Panthers.

(CROWD VOICES).

Throughout our series, we've spoken with energized students across the south about the political issues that matter most to them rights to loan debt, climate change, reproductive rights and education but now it's time to talk about the true power of the young Black vote.

And with less than a month until the midterms, what better place to end our series than in a place that has played such a pivotal role in the fight for voting rights.

John Lewis: Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to found a way to get in a way and I got in trouble, good trouble.

Lee: As a congressman from Georgia, the late John Lewis spent years working to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. He was a college student himself when he became a founding member of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Lewis: We're marching today to dramatize to the nation, dramatize to the world that hundreds and thousands of Negro citizens, particularly here in the Black Belt area, denied the right to vote.

Janiah Henry: Everybody on my grandmother’s side went to HBCU.

Lee: That's Janiah Henry, a senior at Clark Atlanta University. Janiah is one of the many Black students across the state getting into good trouble by trying to get young, Black people ready to vote in the November elections.

Growing up, Janiah often heard stories from her grandmother about her experience trying to vote as a college student during the civil rights era.

Henry: She was in college when the Dr. King, things were happening, the civil rights movement was going on. She was actually living the change, so I asked (ph) her, you know, she was a part of those protests and she just explained to me that back then, she just didn't want to get into good trouble because she was just generally scared.

Lee: Janiah feels that it's her responsibility to make that good trouble today.

Henry: I see it as a privilege and I see it as my ancestors had to endure this for a reason. And we have to make that reason like worth it, you know. It wasn't too long ago that was happening. And we're actually living with people who has to deal with that. So it's a respect factor.

Lee: So Janiah is on a mission to turn out the vote at HBCUs in Atlanta.

Henry: The Black kids vote matter because we're the future and we're here now.

Lee: Last election season, young voters helped keep Democrats the win.

Joe Biden: I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn't see red states or blue states, only sees the United States.

(CROWD CHEERING)

Archival Recording: NBC News now projects that Democrat Raphael Warnock has won the Senate runoff race in Georgia.

Archival Recording: NBC News now projecting that Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, will win the Senate runoff in the state of Georgia. That leads the projection that Democrats will regain control of the U.S. Senate. (DRUM ROLLING).

Lee: In 2020, a movement of grassroots activists and student organizers locked their attention on the Black youth vote, building momentum on Georgia campuses and sparking an unprecedented turnout. In that same year, a study from Tufts University found that Black people made up one-third of all young registered voters in Georgia, the highest concentration of such voters in any state. (DRUM ROLLING).

Now a general election is one thing. But the midterms are a totally different story. Enthusiasm tends to wane, turnout drops even as the fate of the House and Senate hangs in the balance. (DRUM ROLLING)

Archival Recording: I feel like students had been hit with so much because due (ph) to the pandemic like students just really wanted just live by but they don't realize like this is a part of living life, like voting is a part of living life. That's how you keep moving, you keep growing.

Lee: And on top of these usual issues, Georgians are facing a wave of new voting restrictions this November that civil rights leaders say targets people of color.

Archival Recording: Anyone asking for an absentee ballot must include their driver's license number instead of simply signing a form. The law also bends the use of ballot drop boxes outdoors, or after business hours cuts down on early voting in runoff elections, allows the state legislature to take over local election boards and makes it a crime to provide food or water to people standing in line at the polls. (DRUM ROLLING).

Lee: There's a lot at stake in Georgia. Stacey Abrams is running for governor again, facing incumbent Republican Brian Kemp, the same opponent she lost to in 2018. And Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is trying to hold off Republican challenger Herschel Walker. The winner of that race could determine which party holds the majority in the Senate. (DRUM ROLLING)

With so much on the line, youth organizers in Georgia are feeling the pressure.

Archival Recording: So, making sure that we're not burning our students out while also still encouraging them to participate has definitely been a challenge.

Lee: I'm Trymaine Lee and this is Into America. (MUSIC PLAYING) For the last episode of our series, The Power of the Black Vote, we bring you the story of how young, Black people organized, showed up at the polls and harnessed people power to flip a state from red to blue. And we'll take a look at how in the face of a conservative backlash, a wave of new voting restrictions and the expected midterm drop-off, these Georgians are working to build on the gains from 2020. (MUSIC PLAYING)

How did you end up at Clark Atlanta University? How did you decide to go here?

Henry: Clark chose me.

Lee: Janiah Henry is a political science major at Georgia's Clark Atlanta University. And taking a stand for what's right isn't new to her. When she was in sixth grade, Trayvon Martin was killed.

Henry: I watched that trial on TV with my mother and she was just like silent tears. And I wasn't crying but I was just kind of taking in that moment. And I remember being seriously infuriated.

Lee: So Janiah took her anger and turned it into action.

Henry: I'm literally in middle school. I didn't know what I was doing but I was just trying to show something like a solidarity. So, I remember telling all my friends, everyone who trusted me as a leader, I remember telling them, come to school tomorrow with a hoodie, wear your hoodie over your head.

We all walking with hoodies on our head in the school and the teachers are just like, "Take that off.” We didn't take it off. And they're just like, “Take it off.” We didn't take it off.

Lee: Janiah said the teachers punished them with no recess that day but that didn't stop her from taking a stand.

Henry: I was in ninth grade when Colin Kaepernick happened.

Lee: And Janiah remembers refusing her teacher's instructions to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Henry: She got mad at me and wrote me up and was kind of telling me like you weren't enslaved, so you didn't have to --

Lee: It's your teacher telling you this?

Henry: Yeah, in front of the class, telling me, you know, you weren't enslaved. So you didn't have to go through those things. So there's no reason you shouldn't be standing up. And I was later punished by her the entire semester and neglected in the classroom.

Lee: How did that shape the way you start thinking about the world around you, especially from a political context when you were young, but how did you start thinking about things around you like through that filter of experience and that kind of thing?

Henry: It really like deeply hurt my feelings because it kind of reminded me of the first time I experienced prejudice. So, it kind of brought me back to that moment. And it just fueled me even more. After that, I was doing voter registration jobs in my high school. I was politically involved with Black Voters Matter. It just fueled me more.

Lee: Janiah is from Byron, Georgia, a small city where being a Black girl could be tough.

Henry: I was ironically working at a very conservative hunting store because I live in the rural area, so that's just kind of what we have. And I remember like every day, it's Trump flags, it's this type of encounter and that type of encounter.

Lee: For generations, many Black Georgians have felt politically isolated in their own state and there's good reason. In the decades after reconstruction, Black citizens who tried to vote faced white mob violence, intimidation and Jim Crow laws that prevented them from casting a ballot.

In more recent years, Black folks have still faced plenty of roadblocks like voter roll purchase. Based on the public record request, the "Associated Press" found that between 2012 and 2018, the Secretary of State's Office cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations.

In 2017 alone, nearly 670,000 people were knocked off the rolls. People were purged for all kinds of reasons like not voting in recent elections, signature discrepancies or moving to a different address. The people who were purged were disproportionately Black and the man who was Secretary of State at the time, Stacey Abrams' opponent, Brian Kemp.

Stacey Abrams: I have an opponent who has been an architect of voter suppression.

Lee: And Abrams wasn't shy about calling out Republicans on these issues.

Abrams: The problem is he's not even allowing those legally permitted to vote to cast a ballot in the state without fear of being blocked and being suppressed.

Lee: Janiah can recall that election like it was yesterday.

Henry: I always say that I love Stacey Abrams because I identify with her. She's a Black woman. She's from an area that's similar to mine and she is a graduate of the AUC.

Lee: Do you remember when she announced that she was running? Like what did it feel like to have someone you can identify with who was actually running for governor of the state?

Henry: It felt great, like it felt like we're going to make this happen. (MUSIC PLAYING).

Lee: Ciarra Malone also remembers the first time she learned about Stacey Abrams.

Ciarra Malone: I was at a United State of Women Conference. It was the first time that people have talked to me about running for office, believing that young people can run for office. And I remember going home and feeling, oh my gosh, mom, there was a women named Stacey Abrams who spoke today. She says she's running for governor and she's amazing, like this is amazing. (MUSIC PLAYING).

Lee: A year later, Ciarra was a junior at Georgia's Kennesaw State and she remembers all the energies surrounding that race, the feelings of excitement and hope.

Malone: I think that we underestimated the importance of seeing people who look like you running for, even if it they’re not winning elected office, like participating in that type of process. And so I think for a lot of young, Black people who wanted to participate politically, that meant a lot to even see a Black woman that was on the ballot to begin with. So, I think that that stirred up a lot of momentum.

Lee: Abrams ran a dynamic campaign that relied heavily on grassroots outreach among historically marginalized and disinvested communities, low frequency voters, poor people and people of color. Her progressive message of inclusivity and change struck a chord. For the first time in a very long time, many voters felt like their voice could matter. The "Ledger-Enquirer", a newspaper in Columbus, Georgia spoke to some of these folks just ahead of the election.

Archival Recording: Georgia has failed behind because people really didn't have no one to write with. But right now, I think Stacey Abrams has motivated Georgia again that we're going to turn the state blue because it's about everybody.

Archival Recording: We’ve never had this type of enthusiasm before. I keep hearing it from everybody. The mood is just different.

Lee: But despite an election that drew more than 4 million ballots, the highest turnout for a midterm the state had seen in a decade, it still wasn't enough.

Abrams: More than 200 years into Georgia's democratic experiment, the state failed its voters.

Lee: A mere 55,000 votes separated Abrams from victory that night and she made it clear. She believed that voter roll purchase and other suppression tactics made all the difference.

Abrams: Make no mistake, the former Secretary of State was deliberate and intentional in his actions. This is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.

Lee: Despite the outcome, Abrams' loss planted a seed in young organizers like Ciarra Malone.

Malone: A lot of us were on the understanding that Georgia was a hard red state. If we wanted to see progress, then maybe we’d see it in Atlanta and that metro area. But as a state, we were never going to be that progressive.

And it was just seeing Stacey Abrams run, yes, she lost but yes, it was closer than a lot of us even thought possible at the time. She made it very clear that she still had plans for the state and that she was still here to continue creating change. And so in a way, that also gave me a lot of hope. (MUSIC PLAYING)

Lee: So when Ciarra graduated from college two years later, she joined Campus Vote Project, a national voting rights organization that helps college students turn out the vote at their schools. Campus Vote Project had just done a survey and found something concerning.

Voter turnout at HBCUs had dropped more than 10 percent from 2012 to 2016. As Ciarra talked to students across the state, she learned that while she felt activated by the Democratic losses over the past few years, others felt defeated. (MUSIC PLAYING).

Malone: I think for a certain demographic, their participation in the, like most recent elections that they were able to vote in, whether that be like 2016, 2018, didn't necessarily result in the change that they had been promised. I think a lot of times when people are talking to young people and student, in particular, they incentivize voting by promising change will happen after you cast your ballot. And truthfully, that's not always the case.

Genesis Ivey: So, I was a freshman at Fort Valley State during the peak of the 2020 presidential elections, August of 2020.

Lee: That's Genesis Ivey, a junior at a small, historically Black college, two hours south of Atlanta.

Ivey: None of my peers, I would ask them, are you guys registered to vote? And it was like, why would I vote? My vote doesn't matter. I'm a Black student in Georgia, my vote doesn't count.

Chandler Nutall: Yeah, so the voting seen in Georgia feels like it's constantly changing and shifting, especially recently.

Lee: Chandler Nutall, a senior at Spelman College says there's also a lot of complexity that student voters have to navigate before they can even cast their ballot.

Nutall: Polling locations, accessing those polling locations when not every student has a vehicle is especially challenging being out of state students, can they vote in Georgia, being interested in Georgia politics, but not knowing how to engage.

Lee: As the first ever Georgia coordinator for Campus Vote Project, Ciarra Malone talk to Black students on a number of HBCU campuses and they echo these issues.

Malone: Where is my nearest voting precinct? What's the difference between election day precincts and early voting precincts? And I'm not someone who's familiar with the counties that I'm necessarily living in. There's all these questions that don't get direct answers because people are often thinking about the direct concerns of students when they're participating in the political process.

Lee: Ciarra says when she talked to school administrators, it was clear they needed support.

Malone: What we've seen at HBCUs is very often, they don't always have the same capacity to do this work and that other institutions that are both (ph) well-funded by the state have entire offices dedicated to civic engagement. There are several people on the staff working towards a specific initiative.

You get the specific HBCUs and there might be one person who's in charge of civic engagement alongside volunteer work, community engagement which are all very big comprehensive things that don't always necessarily align with one another.

Lee: So for the next few months, Ciarra collaborated with students HBCUs to create campus civic engagement plans, organize voter registration trainings and candidate forums and bridge longstanding gaps between students and administrators. (MUSIC PLAYING).

The idea was to create structures for student voting engagement that could last beyond an election cycle or an individual student's college tenure. (MUSIC PLAYING).

Meanwhile, as Ciarra was working with these HBCUs, everything was changing. At the time, Amiah Krucrum (ph) was a student at Clark Atlanta University.

Amiah Krucrum (ph): There was a time where we got kicked off campus, there was a lot of social warfare going on, George Floyd and everything that was going on within Atlanta.

(CROWD VOICES)

Archival Recording: Miles from Minneapolis, anger, frustration pouring into the streets of America.

Archival Recording: That could be my father. That could be my brother. That could be me.

(CROWD VOICES)

Archival Recording: The young Black woman, I'm used to not being heard, but this one, it hits different.

Archival Recording: During the summer of 2020, it was just so much turmoil going on. I could literally hear riots, police outside and it got me interested on what I could do and the impact that I could make not just for my campus but in the world.

(CROWD VOICES)

Lee: With increased support from their administrations and organizations like Campus Vote Project, students started channeling the energy on campus into tangible change.

(CROWD VOICES)

Archival Recording: I was literally in the field, going to see these different houses, talking to these people in different neighborhoods.

Archival Recording: Getting a voter plan, so that you, on voting day, you know what you're going to do and you know the obstacles that you're going to encounter, getting students informed on who the candidates were. Different things like that centered around information. When it comes to advocacy, I’m very information-based.

Cameron Smith: We did like virtual debate watch parties. We did like Q&A sessions.

Lee: Morehouse College senior, Cameron Smith, says even simple actions made a big difference.

Smith: We just had a couple of vehicles just for transporting people like to and from, like trying to make sure that people at least had a way to go there and exercise their rights. I feel like just in general, the student involvement is just a glue that holds it together, like that's an important piece.

(CROWD VOICES)

Lee: A groundswell of student engagement, dedicated youth organizers, better on campus voting infrastructure and support, it all came together on Election Day 2020.

Archival Recording: NBC News is now ready to make a couple of calls. Let's start with the first. In the state of Georgia, where there's currently a hand recount being done, Joe Biden is the apparent winner. Again, Joe Biden, the apparent winner in Georgia.

Archival Recording: Senator Kamala Harris becoming the first Black woman to serve as Vice President Elect. This is a new moment in American history. And they were hoping that would resonate. (MUSIC PLAYING)

Archival Recording: 2020, we had the highest youth voter turnout that we’ve had in history in the state of Georgia.

Lee: Youth voters made up a full 21 percent of Georgia votes, one of the highest ratios in the country. And the state's Black youth turnout went up 10 percent from 2016. Just a few months later when Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff claimed victory in Georgia Senate runoffs, the Black youth turnout remained high.

Archival Recording: The two Democratic candidates actually outperformed Joe Biden among key Democratic constituencies, among African-Americans, among young people.

Lee: Without this increase in young Black voters who overwhelmingly picked the Democrats, Ciarra Malone says, Georgia's newly acquired purple status may not have been possible. But now, it's a new year, a new election and a new challenge.

Malone: One of the things that I pushed is diligence and to never give up because they were trying so hard to make sure that we're not able to vote. But we can't give up so easily.

Lee: When we come back, what students and organizers are doing today to keep the young, Black electorate energized.

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Lee: (BAND PLAYING).The Black youth vote may have tipped federal elections in favor of the Democrats these last two years. But Republicans still controlled the governorship and vote chambers in the state legislature. And after the GOP lost both Senate seats in early 2021, the state government responded by passing Senate Bill 202 just a few months later.

The controversial law is commonly referred to as SB 202. And Republicans say it's necessary to make elections more secure. But voting rights experts say the new restrictions disproportionately impact Black voters.

Archival Recording: In the battle over the ballot with calls for boycotts growing louder after the Republican-led state legislature passed a sweeping new elections law that would, among other things, limit the use of ballot drop boxes and require I.D. to apply for mail-in ballots instead of signature verification.

Archival Recording: SB 202 vaguely is a voter bill that began to change the scope of voting as we knew it.

Archival Recording: It has an extensive list of limitations, things that will no longer happen within Georgia elections. Some of that includes not being able to pass out snacks and water to voters directly in line. Some of that is not being able to bus people to and from direct polling locations, limiting how much time you have to turn in absentee ballot.

Lee: For many African-Americans, voting isn't just a civic duty. It's a sacred ritual. Genesis Ivey, the senior at Fort Valley State says SB 202 has hampered her school's ability to participate in long-held Black voting traditions.

Ivey: One thing that we have done at Fort Valley State University, and I know that other HBCUs do this as well is a March to the Polls. And historically Souls to the Polls where African-Americans sing and we go to church. We sing when we go to the polls, it's a southern thing. That is now a crime underneath Senate Bill 202.

So when we try to organize these interactive things for us to do as HBCU students, it's like are we even allowed to do those things, like we're walking on eggshells trying to get our campus civically engage.

Lee: And the new law has led to frustration during these midterms.

Ivey: And if you look at busy college students whether it be HBCU or not, we have a million things that we have to do. So for that window to be closed is, it gives us as HBCU students kind of like discouragement. And it's like, okay, well, they don't want us to vote if they're closing the gaps and the windows.

Lee: For Clark Atlanta senior, Janiah Henry, that sense of discouragement is a familiar one. Back in 2019, she started volunteering with Black Voters Matter and set up a table at her high school to get students registered.

Henry: Our table had Black Voters Matter gear on it. It also had National Voter Registration gear on it. And because my school is predominantly people of color, mostly Black people, we had a lot of students picking up Black Voters Matter things. And so for whatever reason, I was called to the principal's office and the principal told me that multiple parents had been calling the school, saying that I was discriminating against students.

And I had to bring to him a list of all the people that I registered. They had their information there. You can see that this is the people that registered. It's not just Black students. It's not just Latino students. It's not just white students. Everyone is registering. And all I'm doing is show them how to register the vote.

Lee: They said multiple parents calling in. What do you think was behind that? What do you think that they were really trying to do?

Henry: I think that they didn't want Black students to register to vote.

Lee: But Janiah let that experience fuel her, just like when she lost recess over her Trayvon Martin protest and was berated by her teacher after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

She continued her organizing and voter outreach work when she got to Clark Atlanta in 2020. And this year, she's been spreading awareness about the new law and other voting restrictions in Georgia.

One big issue she says is that school I.D.s from private universities like Clark aren't accepted for voting. So she makes sure students know to bring other I.D. with them or get an official I.D. before election day.

(CROWD CHEERING)

And she's working to keep turnout high on her campus in the 2020 midterms.

(CROWD CHEERING)

On a bright day in September, the Clark Atlanta promenade was bursting with energy, bright red, white and Black pennants, the school colors were strung on a line through the tops of trees and streetlights. And dozens of students stood behind voter registration tables. Class had just let out and people were swarming as music blasted from a loudspeaker.

Henry: So right now, we're on the promenade, which is like the center of Clark Atlanta University. We have students out here. They're learning a lot. They're learning their polling locations. They're learning the importance of local voting. It's just good energy, a fun learning environment.

Lee: This year, Janiah is the Co-Chair of Clark Atlanta University Votes, a nonpartisan voter mobilization initiative that supports civic life on campus. It was founded by a former student who worked with Campus Vote Project. Janiah is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta. So she gathered all the heads of the fraternities and sororities on campus to run voter registration tables for their school community.

Henry: Some students are registered to vote. Some didn't know their voter registration status and found out they actually were registered to vote. Some students, I swayed them to vote locally because we do live on this campus. And the politics of East Atlanta and Atlanta period (ph) do affect us in nine months out of the year. So, a lot of students were open to change and open to engaging in Atlanta politics. (BAND PLAYING)

Lee: In August 2022, a poll from the Alliance for Youth Action found that more than 40 percent of young Black people in battleground states like Georgia have an unfavorable opinion of Democrats in Congress right now. Almost 80 percent of people in that same group view Republicans unfavorably.

But instead of leaning toward apathy, almost 80 percent of these voters say they're extremely motivated to vote in the midterms this year. Janiah is hoping to leverage that motivation into people power at the polls come November.

So, how do you talk to students who say, you know what, you're asking me to vote but I see that there's always suppression efforts. My access to the vote in the polls are being limited, nothing is changing in my community. How do you push back against that because a lot of that is true. Things don't change. There are a lot of barriers. How do you talk to them about that?

Henry: It's kind of like low-key embarrassing for young organizers because it's like we just try to advocate for voting. And then they voted and now they're like, okay, but they are doing nothing that I just said. But I try to explain to people that consistency is key.

We have not been voting for long and even when we did get the right to vote, many of our ancestors did not vote because they were scared for their lives, my grandmother being one of them. And that was rightfully so in that era. But now, we're in the point where we can actually start to consistently vote.

Even when I was a kid, people weren't consistently voting in local elections. People will turn out the vote for who they thought would magically change the rest of American democracy, President Obama, but it takes more than just that one time where we all come to the polls. It takes that time, some more years. So, I tried to explain to people that we have to be more consistent.

Lee: And what's at stake? Every election is important but in this moment, what's the stake?

Henry: At stake is a woman's autonomy. At stake is voting as we know it. At stake is honestly our democracy.

Lee: So, Stacey Abrams is running again. You know, it's been a tough road for her. How do you experience this time around? Stacey Abrams, this time is different than the last time. Last time is all excitement, but like how much hope are you putting on her now?

Henry: I still have great belief that we will be successful. The first time around, it was so much happiness and enthusiasm. I think this time, everyone feels the intensity and we're like we really need to make this happen like seriously. So, I think that's kind of the switch.

Lee: When you think about the potential of this HBCU voting block, right, not just in Georgia but across the south and even up into northeast, what do you think about like the power that you hold?

Henry: I think that the power we hold is something indescribable. It’s something -- it is just our ancestors’ larger (ph) dreams and probably more than what they could ever thought of.

Lee: And some might fully realize, right, there's great potential here. How far off do you think we are to seeing like the HBCU student body being a huge block, an important block in this country that matters to politicians?

Henry: Give us five to 10 years, if less, I'm not surprised.

Lee: Five to 10 and then start flexing.

Henry: Yes. (MUSIC PLAYING)

Lee: Ciarra Malone, the Georgia coordinator for Campus Vote Project agrees.

Malone: Black students are understanding that people need our votes. Secondly, our power is limitless, like I definitely think that there's an understanding that we are a chunk of who creates this change and who elects leaders into office.

Like I said, we make up currently about 20 percent of the electorate which can 100 percent swing any election we want or needed to swing. And so, understanding that like we have that power and our elected leaders are making lifelong changes for us, definitely needs to be taken into consideration moving forward, and more participating.

Lee: What is it like when you see a young person, someone a few years younger than you like Janiah putting in the work, walking these mighty footsteps of so many people before you all, what is it like when you see those younger people get involved this way?

Malone: I am so like flabbergasted and amazed by the young people who have decided to join in on this movement and who have done so much organizing it, activating in the space. I mean, I'm not too much older than any of them. But like every year, students keep getting better.

They keep getting more powerful. They keep finding more research (ph) to do even bigger and better things than the students do before them and I'm so excited to see what it will look like, even like three to five years from now because this work won't stop.

Lee: Because no matter the obstacles this generation of young Black HBCU students knows their power.

(BAND PLAYING)

Archival Recording: The Black kids vote matter is because we're the future and we're here now. And it's just time that we help change the scope of politics, help push democracy to a more integral point.

Archival Recording: The Black youth vote matters to me because I am an African-American woman with dreams of going to Congress someday. I want to serve the 8th District of Georgia. And my hometown is red, predominantly Republican, is something that's going to be different when a young, enthusiastic, passionate Black young lady gets up there and wants to serve her community in that capacity.

Archival Recording: The Black youth vote matters so much just because who you vote for in Georgia affects what happens on the national scale. As a Black youth in the time that we are, it's important to think about how your vote affects the lives of so many other people that look like you around the country now but also in the future.

Archival Recording: And I believe it's our time to raise up. And we are the next generation to get out there and exercise that right.

Archival Recording: Black college students can fall to the wayside. And so it is important that by showing up in massive numbers, by demonstrating that interest in democracy and it emphasizes that we are not a population to be ignored, but rather, we are a population to even be prioritized.

Archival Recording: One of the most activated and engaged generations that we've seen in a really long time. I mean, maybe I'm little biased but I'm super excited to see what will be possible for us in the future and what can be possible for us moving forward.

(BAND PLAYING)

Lee: This wraps up our tour Into America on The Power of the Black Vote. These young people are not just shaping their political futures but the future of this whole country.

Thank you to Texas Southern, NC Central, FAMU (ph), Jackson State and the entire Atlanta University consortium for hosting us as we got to know this incredible generation of young, Black leaders.

And thank you, to you, our listeners. Hit us up on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and please tell us what you think of the series. Our handle is @intoamericapod or you can tweet me @TrymaineLee. If you love the show, please help us spread the word. You can do that by rating and reviewing Into America on Apple Podcasts or wherever you're listening right now.

Into America is produced by Sojourner Ahebee, Isabel Angell, Allison Bailey, Mike Brown, Aaron Dalton, Max Jacobs, and Joshua Sirotiak. Original music is by Hannis Brown. Our Executive Producer is Aisha Turner. Special thanks to Stefanie Cargill, Randy Brown and Dougald Suttle. I'm Trymaine Lee. Catch you next Thursday.

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