Darren “Tank” Sauls says it concerns him when he overhears people say “My vote doesn’t matter,” or – even worse – “I don’t vote.”
“It’s important that we’re aware of the issues, we do our own research … and use our own vote as our voice,” says Sauls, a 33-year-old Charlotte native and marketer.
On Sunday, he took part in a photo and video shoot that’s part of the Washington-based Hip Hop Caucus and its Respect My Vote! campaign, which holds events in different cities to encourage voter registration and influence youth and minority communities to get active in voting.
Charlotte events continue Thursday with a town hall at the Urban League of the Central Carolinas to raise awareness of the voting rights of ex-felons.
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Sunday’s photo and video event is part of a social-media push to raise voter awareness. Participants posed for photos in campaign T-shirts designed in red, white, blue and black. Then they talked on video about voting in their first election, and national and local issues important to them.
It will all be touted under the hashtags #RespectMyVote and #ElectionRevolution, according to Brandi Williams, Hip Hop Caucus ambassador in Charlotte.
“It’s really talking about making a huge change, and how our generation can do that from the hip-hop perspective,” says Williams, 39.
Charlotte personalities slated to be involved include R&B singer and Garinger High graduate Sunshine Anderson; Charlotte-based rapper Mr. 704; Larry “No Limit Larry” Mims of WPEG-FM (“Power 98” 97.9); Olympia D of Old School 105.3; Davita Galloway of Dupp & Swat studio in NoDa; and caucus national ambassador Nakisa Glover.
Also participating was Quinn Rodgers, pastor of GeneratiONE (say “Generation One”), a hip-hop church the native Charlottean founded in 2014. Rodgers, 32, says no one should sit out this election.
“For me it’s historical, when you realize the many people that put their lives on the line for us to vote,” Rodgers says. “It’s important for me to exercise my right to vote, and to be an example for those coming after me.”
Want to go?
The Hip Hop Caucus, R&B singer Sunshine Anderson and the John S. Leary Association of Black Attorneys will host a Respect My Vote! “What Are Your Rights?” town hall on Thursday. It runs 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Urban League of the Central Carolinas, 740 W. Fifth St. The free event includes Radio One, Exodus Foundation’s Madeline McClenney-Sadler and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Ella Scarborough. Attendees will learn about voter rights for persons previously incarcerated, voter ID updates, and discuss local and state judicial candidates in the upcoming election. For more information and to register: www.eventbrite.com/e/respect-my-vote-charlotte-townhall-and-voter-registration-tickets-27011646562