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Monday, August 15, 2022

​​​​Local Baltimore Non-Profit Black Girls Vote Invests in Educating
the Next Generation of Civic Engagement

Black Girls Vote Inc. (BGV) is among one of the leading non-profit, non-partisan organizations in the state of Maryland with an objective to empower young adults to participate in the civic process of voting in this upcoming primary state election.

Black Girls Vote Inc. started in 2015 when founder Nykidra “Nyki” Robinson launched the organization as a response to the 2012 re-election of President Barack Obama.

 “At the time of his re-election, there were not a lot of conversions about fully leveraging the voting bloc of Black women that have been such loyal Democratic voters,” Chief of Staff and BGV’s Deputy Director of Advocacy, Natasha Murphy said. Murphy also said that in 2015, a lot of people that they engaged with were “reliably Democratic” but have since increased diversity in party affiliation engagement.  

Ever since then, the organization dedicates itself to “educating, empowering, and engaging” voters—particularly Black female voters between the ages of 18 to 25—about the voting and election process.

BGV has registered over 18,000 voters since its launch, while engaging people in “non-traditional” settings such as the Beyoncé concert tailgate at M&T Bank Stadium in June of 2016, according to Murphy. The organization is also known to set up registration tables at events like local farmers’ markets.

“Black Girls Vote is all about engaging with voters in a non-traditional way but also providing them with necessary and accurate information to create an informed voting bloc,” Murphy stated.

“It’s really important that we remain up-to-date on the accurate perspectives and policy positions of all parties and not just the Democratic Party,” Murphy said.   

However, Murphy said that they have seen an increase in diversity of thought, especially among young voters.

“We realized how important it was to invest in the next generation of civic leaders,” Murphy said.

As a part of their outreach to the 18 to 25 age demographic, BGV established what they call “Colligate Ambassador” chapters at universities such as American University; Howard University; North Carolina State University; Bowie State University; and Morgan State University (MSU).  

Left to Right: Kayla Jackson; Layschel Kemp; Shawnna Thomas; Glennis Armstrong; Zoe Gaynor; and Amber Robinson are members of Black Girls Vote’s Morgan State collegiate chapter who visited Dunbar High School for voter registration outreach.  
 
Photo Credit: Jade Harris

Morgan State University in Baltimore was the first to establish a collegiate team of young Black women who aim to advocate for progress, transparency, community, and choice within their collegiate community.

“Black Girls Vote really helps students and young adults understand what it really means to be a registered voter, and what it means to be a part of the political process, and how they play a role in it,” Amber Robinson, a senior and president of BGV at Morgan State University said.

The student-led chapters operate similarly to the national organization, but they do so to engage the student body in important conversations about issues pertaining to voting, and female empowerment, while also engaging students socially.

Back in April, former events coordinator, Jade Harris said they hosted an event called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” where they led a discussion surrounding issues that impact women. The event ended with a “ceremonial activity” where male attendees were encouraged to wear high heels and “truly understand one of the many struggles women endure,” according to their Instagram post.

Other engagement styles include posting information from their national headquarters to fact-check policies, and hosting watch parties of election results.

“We’ve had moments where people would push back on us and challenge what we are saying,” Robinson said. “It’s hard to tell them the reality of what it is without staying non-partisan.”

Nevertheless, they focus on distributing accurate nonpartisan information about party policy by speaking to their peers.

The BGV chapter at MSU recently started partnering with Starbucks as part of an outreach effort to engage high school students in voter registration. It is legal for children aged of 16 to register to vote.

The chapter also visits high schools in Baltimore such as Western High School, Vivian T. Thomas, and Douglas High School. Harris described this as “carrying the torch” by continuing to provide resources to minority and low-income communities.

The BGV chapter has registered over 600 students, according to the former president and recent graduate of MSU, Yolanda Waters.

Although their registrations on campus have dwindled to 75 to 100 voters, Waters is “proud” to see so many people already registered.

If you are interested in getting involved with Black Girls Vote either nationally or on the collegiate level, visit: https://blackgirlsvote.com/.

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