Rising Voices forum celebrates, educates young voters in Atlanta
By Hannah E. Jones
During the 2022 midterm elections, 27 percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 submitted their ballot — the second-highest turnout for a midterm election in the last three decades. This generation of voters, particularly young women, was the focus of last week’s Rising Voices forum in Atlanta.
On Wednesday, March 1, All In Together — a nonprofit that educates and empowers voting-age women to become fully involved in America’s civic and political spheres — hosted its inaugural Rising Voices forum at The Gathering Spot. The two-hour program was designed to celebrate young women who are driving social and political change around the country, while also exploring the role of the younger generations within our civic systems.
“It’s not exclusively about getting out the vote — which is so important — and it’s not always just about running for office, it’s everything in between,” said All In Together COO Isabel González Whitaker during her opening remarks.
The forum featured three panels — Shifting Narratives and Power, Business For Good and Building Long-Term Change. SaportaReport was a media sponsor for the event.
The speakers have varied backgrounds and areas of expertise, but all with a focus on mobilizing young voters and strengthening our country’s civic and political systems. All speakers were women of color. The speakers include:
Shifting Narratives and Power
- Ariana Jasmine Afshar, political content creator
- Lupita Quezada, Latino Community Fund
- Rhea Wunsch, Atlanta community organizer and activist
Business For Good
- Melanie Denson, P&G
- Brittany Masalosalo, HP
- Samantha Ramirez, Offtharecord
Building Long-Term Change
- Jasmine Clark, Georgia House of Representatives
- Vanessa Ibarra, Atlanta Mayor’s Office
- Janelle King, Speak Georgia and former Deputy State Director for the Georgia Republican Party
Over the last few years, Gen Z has gotten a reputation for pursuing social change — both in-person and online. During the first panel, speakers highlighted the influence of young voters and their top priorities.
“Gen Z is fed up and, quite honestly, I don’t blame them. They’re fed up with the inflation rates, corporate greed, climate change, and they understand that the direction we’re going as a country is completely unsustainable,” Afshar said. “Young people are the future; They are showing up.”
To continue to tap into young voters, the guest speakers emphasized the crucial role social media plays in disseminating information, as online platforms are a daily staple in the lives of young people. They also recommend hiring Gen Z employees to craft and manage these online campaigns because, otherwise, they could feel disingenuous.
“To really get young people active, we have to meet them where they’re at,” Quezada said. “You can tell when someone that’s trying to lead a social media platform for Gen Z is not Gen Z [themselves], so it doesn’t have the same traction. Hire [people who] represent the community that you want to actively support you.”
During the final panel, the speakers discussed barriers to entry, like generational differences, hyperpartisanship and political jargon. One way to lower the barrier to entry, they said, is to move these discussions into action.
“The first piece of advice that I will give anybody who has thought about running for office, especially the women in the room, is don’t talk yourself out of it,” Clark said. “Don’t think you have to run for Congress. We need people at the local level, we need people running for school board, we need people running for city council, we need people at all levels of government. I know there’s at least one person in this room whose name should be on a ballot in the next upcoming election.”
If you’re interested in watching the inaugural Rising Voices forum, click here for the full livestream. To learn more about All In Together and get involved in its programs, click here.
Leave a Comment