Former President Barack Obama is urging those protesting police brutality and white supremacy across the United States to remember to vote in local elections.
"I wrote out some thoughts on how to make this moment a real turning point to bring about real change," he wrote, going on to say that the protests "represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices."
"...the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels. It's mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people—which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes."
“So the bottom line is this: If we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform."
“I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting—that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.
Let's get to work."
You can read his full statement -- and utilize the resources he gathered for activists -- below.
Did you know that in 2016, only 10% of eligible Tennesseean women between the ages of 18-29 cast their vote in the presidential election? Did you know that Tennessee is actually ranked 49th in the nation for voter turnout?
If your care and concern for the Black Lives Matter movement begins and ends with Twitter activism and clever-sign making, you have to do better.
Make sure that you're registered to vote. Educate yourself on the issues and how the candidates running for office plan to address them. Then make sure your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers are registered to vote, too. You can even do it online -- and it literally takes two minutes [if that]. Click here to get started.