On November 2, ESSENCE held “Ain’t I A Woman: I Am Speaking,” a multigenerational conversation on voting, hosted by Caroline Wanga, the brand’s interim CEO. During the special talk, Wanga connected with Ms. Tina Knowles-Lawson, who has been mentoring young adults through The Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors program she and her husband Richard Lawson created at their WACO (Where Art Can Occur Theater Center. She shared special nuggets about preparing high school students for voting and the impact local elections can have.

Last May, after speaking with a group of saddened high schoolers after the killing of George Floyd, Knowles-Lawson knew she had to show them how their future votes could empower them. “I figured out that I had to connect the dots for them and make it very personal,” she said to ESSENCE. Too often, the youth feels disillusioned by instances of police brutality and comes to believe that their voices don’t matter. This is why it’s so crucial that voters speak to them about how voting for government officials directly correlates to policies that would affect how these matters are handled.

Knowles-Lawson also spoke to young people on how voters are not restricted to participating in the major presidential elections. “We talked about voting at the local level and that you hire the mayor, the mayor hires a police chief, and the judges, and district attorneys,” she noted.

It is now more important than ever that we all fully understand how we can be active in selecting government officials. Watch the full conversation below.

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