by Andrew Barnes
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Young African- American women must make their voices heard through the political process by casting their ballots in the upcoming Midterm Elections, a Baltimore City native and founder of the organization Black Girls Vote said Wednesday.
Nykidra Robinson visited Towson University for a discussion about her organization and the importance of voting. Her speech, titled “The Power of One Vote,” encouraged young African-American women to make their voices heard through the political process.
“Your vote is valuable, your vote is powerful, but you must first make the decision to use your vote,” said Robinson, nicknamed “Nyki” pronounced Nike “like the goddess, not the shoe.”
Robinson stressed the importance of not being frustrated into feeling like one’s vote doesn’t matter. She said that it is a necessity to “change the narrative” that voting doesn’t actually matter as is the message through some social media websites.
“Vote yes to taking action,” said Robinson who spoke on the eve of Thursday’s opening of early voting in Maryland.
Robinson explained that she founded the nonpartisan organization Black Girls Vote to teach the importance of voting for policy and politicians who will benefit the lives and communities of women of color, regardless of party loyalty. Robinson said she worked in Baltimore politics both in the office of former Mayor Sheila Dixon as well as former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. She said she was inspired to create her organization following the death of Freddie Gray, losing her job with Brown after the 2014 election, and fearing violence after a drug-related murder across the street from her house.
The main goal is to get young women of color excited about voting, said Robinson. Every vote counts, she stressed, pointing to the nine-vote victory Johnny Olszewski Jr. had in the recent Democratic primary election for the Baltimore County Executive seat.
Researchers and politicians point to African-American women as an important demographic when it comes to politics. The 2010 U.S. Census counted more than 30,000 African-American women living in Baltimore City alone. Robinson cited this statistic and the 2008 and 2012 elections. In the 2012 presidential election, she said 96 percent of African-American women voted for Barack Obama, and were a major factor in him being reelected.
Luis Sierra, the assistant director for Civic Engagement at Towson University, said the “powerful conversation” should inspire everyone in the audience to vote.
“We want to make sure that we are empowering our students, our faculty, and our staff to be active citizens,” said Sierra.
Following the speech, there were also representatives from a few on campus organizations giving information about their groups, including the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the National Council of Negro Women.
India Richey, a member of Towson’s chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, said Robinson’s speech was very valuable.
“She actually captured the value of one vote,” Richey said. “It gave light to the importance of voting in our communities.”
Students registered to vote in Baltimore County may do so on campuses during the early voting window of Oct. 25 to Nov. 1. The official election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.