It’s graduation season! Time for proms, dorm parties, family celebrations, and graduation ceremonies, sure to bring tears to everyone’s eyes. Graduation speeches will remind young people about all the possibilities and opportunities that life has to offer: careers, marriage, children, and travel. As you celebrate the graduates in your family, please remind them about the importance of voting and participating in our democracy.
When I was growing up, I remember a Christmas when a favorite uncle gave me batteries as a gift. Since his was one of the first presents I opened, you can imagine my disappointment at what seemed like a useless and stupid gift. However, when I opened the other gifts that required batteries to operate, I was elated that I could play with my toys because of my uncle’s purposeful and thoughtful gift. Be like my uncle and give your graduate a voter registration form in the gift bag or greeting card. Voter registration, like my batteries, is a purposeful and thoughtful gift that will steer power graduate’s transition to adulthood and hopefully lead to a lifetime of civic participation.
Your voter registration form gift may be the only time your graduate hears how important it is to vote. In From Jennifer Garner to Tim Cook, PBS highlights key points from 2019 graduation speeches, and only one of the featured speeches mentioned voting. Oprah led the way challenging graduates of Colorado College to “…radically transform whatever moment you’re in, which leads to bigger moments.”
I hope other commencement speeches challenged graduates to lean all the way in and be an ACTIVE and CONSISTENT participant in our democracy. 2019 graduates are a part of Generation Z (young people born after 1996). Generation Zers are coming of age in the era of Trump and most political analysts say they are more diverse racially, ethnically, and generally more progressive in their political orientation. However, only 30 percent of Generation Zers turned out to vote in 2018. If their political power is to be a real force to reckon with, we have a lot of work to do to get their attention and encourage them to act.
For today’s Mobilize Monday, your task is simple; make sure that every graduate and Generation Zer in your circle is REGISTERED TO VOTE.
If your graduate is heading off to college or moving to a new address/community, WE CAN will remind you when it is time to request an absentee ballot.
Eldridge Cleaver warned in a speech given in San Francisco in 1968 that, “You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.” Be a part of the solution and register your graduate(s) to vote!
WE CAN President/Founder