The “Vote Loud HBCU Squad Challenge” is a new initiative that is a part of Obama’s When We All Vote organization that she created in 2018. The premise of this new challenge is to get HBCU students to come together and compete against each other to get their schools and campus community registered to vote.
The organization will hand out $3,000 grants to HBCU students that will “support their nonpartisan voter registration, education, and mobilization efforts” according to The Hill. The squad that has the most creative and culturally conscious voting campaign could win guest appearances from notable celebrities at on-campus events in partnership with BET.
“There are people out there who are working day in and day out to make it harder for communities of color, people with disabilities, and young people like you to cast their ballots,” Paul stated in a video posted on Twitter from the organization.
“We’ve got to do a better job of speaking directly to the motivations and unique challenges that young and first-time voters face around voting,” Obama said according to Blavity.
“That’s a big part of the reason why I created When We All Vote—to spark important conversations, share critical resources, and make sure people get registered and get out to vote,” Obama continued. “It’s up to all of us to encourage and work with the next generation to really change the culture around voting,”
With the midterm elections coming soon, the need for young Black voters to realize their power in voting is vital. HBCUs could play an integral role in changing elections both on the local and national levels because of their collective voting strength.
However, for many young Black voters, there are a plethora of challenges that come with voting which can derail Black voters’ intentions of getting to a ballot box. Inadequate resources, misinformation, and hopelessness can all play a factor in limiting participation from young Black voters.
But for Obama and Paul, their motivation to get these students registered to vote and to get their voices heard could help turn the tide.
“Look, I know it can be discouraging. But the bottom line is that it wouldn’t be happening if people weren’t afraid of our voting power.” Paul said according to Blavity. “That’s motivation enough for me, especially when I look at our history as a people in this country and those before us who led the way to ensure we could even vote. Through the Squad Challenge, we are empowering HBCU students to take leading roles in our democracy by volunteering with us and creating a squad and giving them opportunities to fight back.”