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Black Lives Matter Launches National 2020 Voter Drive Targeting ‘Generation Z’
Patrisse Cullors participates in a panel discussion after the Los Angeles premiere of "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am" on June 14, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Magnolia Pictures

Top organizers from Black Lives Matter have launched a nationwide effort to boost voter turnout next year among eligible young adults from the post-millennial generation, some of whom will be casting a presidential ballot for the first time.

NNPA Newswire, which provides content to numerous black-owned community newspapers across the country, reports that “BLM’s goal is to hit all major cities where Black folks live and engage Generation Z,” which is generally considered to be people born after 1996.

“Black voters have traditionally been the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency and younger voters represent the future of the party,” said BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors in an exclusive interview with NNPA.

BLM’s “What Matters 2020” initiative was recently introduced by Cullors, BLM Managing Director Kailee Scales, and Melina Abdullah, a college professor who heads the organization’s Los Angeles chapter. Dr. Abdullah is currently on a semester-long sabbatical from Cal State L.A., which is part of the nation’s largest four-year public university system.

According to BLM’s website, “Demographic shifts mean that in the 2020 election, non-whites will account for a third of voters and one in ten voters will be members of Generation Z.” It says the campaign will amplify “the intersection of art, technology, and politics” while “sparking pop-culture moments across the county” to build “collective power.” Organizers intend to focus on progressive causes such as “LGBTQIA+” rights, “black immigration,” and “commonsense gun laws.”

“We will know that we are successful when each candidate has an acceptable and tangible comprehensive plan that specifically addresses racial injustice, criminal justice reform, police brutality and reparations, among other issues that impact the black community,” Cullors said.

The Pew Research Center, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public” about cultural and political shifts, released an extensive report on Gen Z in January. It described the demographic cohort as the “most racially and ethnically diverse” of the five generations, finding that 48% are from communities of color. The firm’s analysis determined Gen Zers are “moving toward adulthood with a liberal set of attitudes and an openness to emerging social trends” and have much in common with Millennials:

On a range of issues, from Donald Trump’s presidency to the role of government to racial equality and climate change, the views of Gen Z — those ages 13 to 21 in 2018 — mirror those of Millennials. In each of these realms, the two younger generations hold views that differ significantly from those of their older counterparts. In most cases, members of the Silent Generation are at the opposite end, and Baby Boomers and Gen Xers fall in between.

Other findings from Pew’s study, titled “Generation Z Looks a Lot Like Millennials on Key Social and Political Issues”:

  • Only 30% of Gen Z approve of the way President Donald J. Trump is handling his job.
  • A 59% majority of Gen Zers say people should have other options than “man” and “woman” when asked about a person’s gender on forms.
  • Two-thirds of Gen Z believe black people are treated less fairly than whites in America.
  • 61% of Gen Zers approve of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism.
  • 53% of post-millennials say too many people are easily offended by the language used by others.

The Black Lives Matter network of activist groups has official chapters in several major cities, including Chicago, Louisville, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and the District of Columbia. Over the summer, leaders from L.A. traveled to South Bend, Indiana, to help establish a sanctioned branch and organize residents against Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Cullors, who currently serves as the BLM’s senior advisor and chief strategist, is also the California director of the Real Justice Political Action Committee. The PAC has prioritized replacing the Los Angeles County District Attorney, who is up for re-election next year, with a “reform-minded” prosecutor.

Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter@JeffreyCawood.

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