Spoken word artist Toluwanami Obiwole is in front of Union Station, standing still amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
“Every generation needs a new revolution,” she says to the camera. “There’s a difference between a moment and a movement.”
So begins the video anchoring New Era Colorado’s new This is Why We Vote campaign, an effort to get millennials to move past their political frustration and vote for change.
“So much of the conversation around this election is about a candidate’s recent gaffes, but it shouldn’t be about a candidate’s missteps — it should be about the issues that affect us every day,” says New Era Colorado Executive Director Lizzy Stephan.
Since its founding in 2006, New Era Colorado has worked to increase youth participation in the democratic process through voter mobilization, including online registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
Stephan says the 2016 election in particular demands participation from young people, who make up more than a third of eligible voters this year.
“There are some very serious issues at stake in this election, like whether we’re going to seize our last opportunity to address climate change or the fate of millions of hardworking undocumented immigrant families who don’t know what the future holds,” she says. “This is what our generation cares about—this is why we vote.”
In her poem, which narrates the video, Obiwole, who is both a student at CU Boulder and Denver’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate, urges millennials to vote on issues such as affordable education, immigration reform and an increase in the minimum wage.
“We vote because defending our communities is more than a hashtag…because education shouldn’t come with its very own debt collection agent… because wages should add up to respect,” she says.
In a press release put out by New Era Colorado, Obiwole adds, “This poem illustrates that young people today are carrying on that tradition by demanding that politicians and candidates take bold action on issues like climate change and racial justice.”
Stephan says that young people are less likely than older voters to cast their ballots out of party loyalty or the appeal of a specific candidate.
“What we know about young voters is that they cast their ballots to make a difference,” she says.
New Era Colorado aims to register at least 50,000 new Colorado voters for this election cycle. The video was a collaborative project between New Era Colorado and Colorado-based video production company Balcony Nine Media.
Photo credit: Screenshot from thisiswhywevote.org