The iconic Roots Picnic looked a little different this year. The annual event went digital in 2020, and served as a collaboration with When We All Vote, the voting rights organization headed by Michelle Obama. The former FLOTUS spoke at the star-studded musical event on June 27, telling young voters across the country that “it couldn’t be more important that everyone get their voice heard this time around. We may not all sound like SZA or Kirk Franklin, but we all deserve to have our voices heard at the polls this fall.”
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 28, 2020
She’s right! The stakes have never been higher. On November 3, 2020, voters will have to choose between electing former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently the presumptive Democratic nominee, or ushering in President Donald Trump for a second term. HollywoodLife spoke with When We All Vote’s Communications Director, Crystal Carson and Managing Director for Culture, Communications, & Media Partnerships, Stephanie Young, ahead of the event.
Protesters have demonstrated across the United States for over a month following George Floyd‘s senseless death at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Crystal and Stephanie said that the next step in enacting lasting social change is voting in November. “[Protesting] is not all that we can do and it’s not the only thing that we can do to really see change in our country. One of the only ways to really impact change is to go to the polls,” Crystal said.
Stephanie echoed Crystal, and added that those who believe their vote doesn’t count need to change that mindset. “Every time you give that vote away, someone else is making all the choices for you, and they are electing people that best represent their values and their interests,” she said. The Roots Picnic featured sensational performances from artists like H.E.R., G Herbo, D-Nice, and The Roots, of course. Michelle was also joined by some of her When We All Vote co-chairs at the digital concert, including Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Both remarkable women had plenty to say at the bash, too, which aimed to text 500,000 eligible voters and encourage them to register to vote within a matter of hours. Kerry gave a passionate address from her backyard, wearing a bedazzled “VOTE” barrette in her hair. “Millions of eligible voters in our country did not vote [in 2016], so we have our work cut out for us, and we are counting on you. With all that we are facing as a nation, it is just so important that we know our rights and our options to vote this November,” the Little Fires Everywhere star said.
She recalled the horrifying images out of Wisconsin and Georgia during their primary elections, where hundreds of people stood in line, outside unable to socially distance as they waited to vote. “No American should ever have to wait in two or three hour lines, or have to choose to risk their health or the safety of their family to cast their ballot. As our country continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, it is now more important than ever that we, as voters, have fair and safe access to register to voting, Kerry said.
The Blackish star echoed Kerry, telling viewers that, “when we sit out we inadvertently elect people who do not respect or reflect our values. We are the change that we’ve been waiting for.” Listening? If you haven’t registered to vote yet, there’s still time to change that. Register and make a difference by filling out the form below, courtesy of our friends at Rock The Vote: