With less than a month from the midterm elections, different groups and celebrities are teaming up to motivate Black Miami to register to vote and head to the polls on election day. The Color Of Change political action committee, organized an intimate conversation between residents and Atlanta rapper, Clifford “T.I.” Harris, on the importance of the Black vote at Black Kutz barbershop in Overtown last Friday.
Harris, who was in town for Sunday’s taping of the 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards, wanted to do some community outreach while in Miami so he reached out to the Color of Change PAC, explained organizer Paige Travis. The focus was to create a setting where residents could hear the rapper talk about his political activism and the need for the Black community to go out to vote on election day.
“The hope is that folks see that he is getting involved and that he cares enough about the importance of voting,” Travis said.
The conversation revolved around registering to vote, understanding who is on the ballot, and what issues voters have to decide, such as Amendment Four, which deals with the restoration of voting rights for former felons who have served their time, including parole and probation. “All of you need to prepare yourselves,” Harris said to those in the room. “Even if you can’t vote, you can drive two or three people to the polls to make sure they vote. That’s how you get the right to vote back.”
Harris told the audience to see themselves as leaders who can influence others to bring change in the community. “For us, we all have influence,” he said. “We are leaders in our own right. You all have to take authority and really take advantage of your leadership positions.”
Kristi Henderson, a Sr. Director of Influencer Engagement for the Color Of Change PAC, echoed Harris’ motivational words. “We recognize that [Andrew] Gillum is a big deal. We also recognize that Amendment Four in Florida is huge. One in five of us cannot vote,” Henderson said. “We are over-sentenced, but we are not over-represented when it comes to voting.”
The Color of Change PAC focuses on building independent Black political power through community engagement. The effort to bring Harris to speak to the Overtown community is part of its Voting While Black campaign, which aims to provide a positive space for the Black community to learn about the different issues that affect them. The group also is keen on electing candidates who share Black values and holding them accountable to the different communities.
Harris joins the likes of former first lady Michelle Obama, singer Kelly Rowland, and funnyman Keegan-Michael Keys, as prominent Black figures who have used their influence while in Miami to encourage locals to participate in the election.
Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 4 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. countywide. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.