One activist group is hoping to turn moviegoers into voters with a new campaign aimed at fans of Black Panther. Dubbed #WakandaTheVote, the new effort by the Electoral Justice Project (EJP) has placed recruiters dressed in Wakanda-inspired costumes in movie theaters around the United States this weekend to share information on the importance of voting and how people can become registered to vote if they are not already.
An off-shoot of the Movement For Black Lives (MBL), the Electoral Justice Project was founded by Kayla Reed, Jessica Byrd and Rukia Lumumba in October 2017. Their primary goal is to develop stronger African American communities in order to better protect and secure the rights of black Americans. Increasing voter turnout is a key aspect of this goal and one the EJP hopes to better facilitate by using the record-breaking attendance at Black Panther screenings to reach out to those citizens who are not easily reached through traditional political outlets. Given that Black Panther could make more money in its opening weekend than the original The Avengers movie, this seems a wise move.
The EJP's efforts were recently profiled in The Wrap. The group's founders stated that they believe Wakanda - the fictional nation depicted in Black Panther - to be symbolic of the sort of society the EJP hopes to begin building in The United States.
"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! 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. We will be registering people to vote at movie theaters across the country so that we can #WakandaTheVote at the ballot box."
While the goals of the EJP are laudable, they face an uphill battle in their efforts at registering voters. In terms of potential voter registration, the United States ranks 28th out of the 35 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with only an estimated 55.7 percent of the potential voter population having taken part in the 2016 Presidential Election. Those participation numbers drop even lower in state and local races and during the so-called "off-year" elections, when House Representative and Senate seats are not up for grabs.
Thankfully, the EJP do have several things working in their favor. The same studies show that registration and participation of black voters in the United States is slightly higher than the national average, at 60 percent. The challenge then seems to be getting people registered and fired-up about voting in the first place. This is a challenge that the EJP seems well-equipped to face and it seems likely their efforts at turning Black Panther fans into voters will prove successful.
American Citizens in 37 states and the District of Columbia can register to vote online at vote.gov. The site can also help those who who cannot register to vote online in their state or territory learn about how to become a registered voter.
Source: The Wrap