Michelle Obama is known for encouraging young people to vote since 2008. She has spoken on multiple occasions about the importance of voting, but she frequently uses social to increase awareness.
One of her most recent social media posts started a hashtag trend. She used Twitter and Instagram to promote #PromChallenge, a campaign to persuade people to register to vote. She posted:
Throwing it back to my 1982 prom night and this pink satin, polka-dotted dress.
Join the #PromChallenge with @WhenWeAllVote and @MTV and tell us what your school is doing to register students to vote. You could get a free prom for your school! Learn more: https://t.co/ggVjRpS3CU pic.twitter.com/x5lP0LHOUf
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 18, 2020
Obama’s tweet currently has over 36,800 likes and her Instagram post has 1.2 million likes.
According to Prom.MTV.com, the challenge is a program with “When We All Vote and MTV’s +1thevote campaign with support from Rent the Runway and other brands.” The program will select 20 U.S. high schools that think of “creative and impactful ways” to increase voting registration. Each winner could win $5,000 to put towards their prom.
Celebrities such as Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross, who are both co-chairs on When We All Vote, posted their throwback prom photos to increase awareness for people to register.
The total post volume from Feb. 18-20 was 9,200 with most posts coming from Twitter. The hashtag campaign has been overall positive with a 91.4 percent sentiment score.
Continuing to Educate
Since leaving The White House, the former first lady is still active in her pursuits to get educate and encourage Americans about voting and participating in elections. She launched When We all Vote, a nonpartisan organization, in 2018 in collaboration with Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Their goal is to change the culture around voting, harness grassroots energy and through strategic partnerships to reach every American.
Obama then delivered an empowering speech Sept. 23, 2018 at the When We All Vote Rally in Las Vegas to implore people to vote in the midterm elections. In her speech, Obama stated that “voting is a fundamental right” and that a person’s vote is their voice. The organization posted a full transcript of her speech here.
“There are still millions of people who think that voting isn’t relevant to their lives or they think voting won’t make a difference,” she stated.
Everyone’s vote is important. The Grammy winner further explained a college degree does not qualify one to vote. Anyone who cares about their country and how it is run is qualified to make their voice heard. Those who desire a better future for their children, care about how their neighborhoods are policed or wants a better education system is qualified to vote.
She impassionedly said, “I am frustrated too! I am sick of all the chaos and all the nastiness of our politics. It’s exhausting.” Obama continued, “When we all vote, imagine the kind of leaders we all can elect. Leaders who share our values. Leaders who understand in the deepness of their bones the struggles and hopes of all of us. Leaders who want the best for all of our families. Not just a handful, but all of us. That’s how democracy works here in America.”
Obama’s speech in 2018 summarized many attitudes surrounding the current political climate. Millions even expressed anger because of the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants and other racially minoritized groups, those from a lower socioeconomic status, women, foreign nations and his lack of actions of condemning White supremacist groups (which wholeheartedly support him).
She then posted another video Nov. 19, 2019 with a new hashtag #VotingSquad. The video featured many celebrities asking people join them and register.
With less than a year to the 2020 elections, it's time to start thinking about your #VotingSquad.
I’ve got mine:
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) November 7, 2019
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “Among 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group– a 79 percent jump” for the November 2018 midterm elections.
What Can You Do?
Just remember this on Nov. 3, “Democracy continues with or without you.” Therefore, make sure your voice is heard.
If you have not registered to vote, here are a few sites to explain the registration process:
For those who want to register to vote in Tennessee, follow this link: GoVoteTN.com