The Movement for Black Lives has channeled the energy and excitement surrounding the opening weekend of Marvel’s “Black Panther” into a voting registration campaign.
The movement’s Electoral Justice Project is organizing the #WakandaTheVote initiative that encourages moviegoers to register to vote at “Black Panther” screenings across the country. Participants host their own events, dressing up in “Wakanda-inspired outfits,” as they recruit potential voters.
“The Movement for Black Lives is an ecosystem of black leaders and organizations fighting every single day for the healthy and happy lives of Black folks,” activists Jessica Byrd and Kayla Reed told Blavity in an interview. “We are effective because we meet our communities where they are, whether that’s in the streets, at the city council meeting, or in the movie theater.”
“This weekend we wanted to meet our people in Wakanda,” they continued, noting the importance of meeting constituents in their communities. “We know that for some it’s a superhero world, but we know that the world we deserve is still waiting to be built — and we want to build it!”
Byrd, Reed and Rukia Lumumba founded the initiative last October to raise awareness about the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. Reed, a St. Louis-based organizer, is co-leader of the EJP alongside longtime political strategist Byrd, who has over a decade’s worth of experience working for marginalized communities. Lumumba, who advises the EJP, helped manage the mayoral campaign for the current mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, her brother.
The campaign has already inspired registration drives in over 50 cities.
“This upcoming spring and November 2018 midterm elections are an important step in building that new world, and we want to take every opportunity to engage our communities in the conversation of electoral justice,” Byrd and Reed said.
People who are interested in hosting their own voter registration drive can text PANTHER to 91990. Interested in registering to vote? Text WAKANDA to 91990.