Tina Knowles is known for being an outspoken advocate for the Black community. Just last month she joined a host of Black women in Hollywood to push for the passage of the HEROES Act, a bill that would provide additional stimulus payments to American families while ensuring voting safety in the upcoming elections.
Today, she’s continuing to use her influence to uplift and inform with a new initiative in partnership with African Pride, and And Still I Vote, a national call to action spearheaded by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Together, they are ensuring that Black and Brown communities all over the country get out and vote this November.
“I mentor kids, Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors, and we had this big call with all the kids. I just wanted to check in with them to see how the death of Mr. Floyd and everything that was going on with this pandemic [was affecting them],” she told ESSENCE. “And I just saw so much hopelessness, many tears and many feelings that no matter what they do or what their families do, whether they voted or whatever they did, was not going to make a difference and things were going to remain the same.”
Those sentiments sent Knowles-Lawson on a mission. She wanted to instill a sense of hope in her kids, and also educate them on the power of voting in both local and national elections, and also the availability of absentee ballots. With the prevalence of voter suppression tactics and discriminatory barriers placed before Black and Brown communities around the country, she sought out an organization whose mission is aligned with hers so they could take action. She found that in And Still I Vote, and not surprisingly, African Pride, a hair care brand that has been addressing the hair needs of Black women for more than 30 years.
“I really have a lot of appreciation that African Pride wanted to do something and that they went about finding a project that they could lend their voice to,” she says. “Every product company, every business, especially the ones that are in the Black community or that appeal to the Black community, they should do their part. [African Pride] stepped up, and they wanted to do something and they wanted to make a difference. A lot of companies just take and when it’s time to give back, you don’t hear from them. So I really applaud them in this effort to team up with us, and I look forward to a good relationship with them.”
The five-month long campaign officially kicks off today and will run all the way through Election Day on November 3. Knowles-Lawson will also be hosting a star-studded Instagram Live series called Talks with Mama Tina, presented by African Pride, promoting voter rights, sharing key voting statistics and more. And while some celebrities have promoted holding the vote as a bargaining tool for the Black community, she says we should do the exact opposite.
“I understand where they’re coming from, but I think the negotiation process of getting more rights and power for Black people should be before the vote,” she explains. “They need to be contacting those candidates and saying what they want. I think it’s damaging when people just get up and say, ‘Oh, well, I’m not going to vote at all,’ because that’s why we have the leader we have now. I think it’s divisive. Use that voice to get in touch with the leaders that are running and say, ‘Listen, these are the initiatives that we want to see, and we’re going to get behind you,’ and that’s how you do it.”
Having raised strong daughters with an unwavering love for the Black community, Knowles-Lawson is used to being in this role. From exposing them to Black art, books about Black leaders and the stories of the struggle of the Black community—including their own father’s, who integrated an elementary school in Alabama—she stressed the education of our history.
She thinks that it’s important for Black parents to instill pride in their children, and the history of where we come from and what we’ve been able to overcome. She says having conversations about politics and voting, and the power of our voices and actions can start early so that by the time they’re old enough to vote they’ll know why they should.
And for registered voters who are unsure how they can help, Knowles-Lawson has advice on how everyone can do their part.
“Go through your phone book and find five people who you can register to vote—call your friends and see whose kid just graduated from high school, or an older person, or family members that might not be signed up,” she says. “Take them to And Still I Vote and take the ten minutes to get them registered. Follow up to ensure that they’ve received their ballots, and even become designated to drop off their absentee ballot for their polling place [if they can’t go in person].”
“Make sure that they do what they’re supposed to do,” she finishes. “Just make sure that you are responsible for five people, that’s doing your part.”Share :