March 3, 2020

Why Vote? Representation Matters

by joeyphoenix

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The North Shore Juneteenth Association encourages all eligible voters to get out and vote.

Editor’s Note: Today is Super Tuesday in Massachusetts. If you’re reading it, go vote. Click here to look up your polling location. 

The North Shore Juneteenth Association (NSJA) recently received a grant from Mass Humanities to host their event Hats, Heels, and High Tea (Why Vote?) this May at Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts in Lynn, MA. 

The event will feature Rodney Lawrence Hurst, Sr., a civil rights activist, a Black historian, and author of multiple award-winning books including Unless WE Tell It…It Never Gets Told!,  as the keynote speaker. 

The event and theme are poignant with this year being a major election year. “We really want people to take advantage of their right to vote and use their voice,” said Nicole McClain, president and founder of the NSJA. 

2020 marks the hundredth year since women (read: white women) earned the right to vote in the United States, and 155 years since Juneteenth, or Freedom Day: the liberation of enslaved African-Americans living in the Confederate States. 

Although, every male could legally vote when Congress passed the 15th amendment in 1870 declaring that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” equal rights weren’t available, especially to Black women, for more than a century later.

Juneteenth is on June 19th, 2020

It has taken the white-led Women’s suffrage movement of the 1910s and the Civil Rights Movement which started in the 1940s (and arguably is still happening today) for American society to take steps towards equality. 

“Voting is important because it can change the way our country is run, hopefully,” Nicole said. “If people get out and vote – the people that aren’t happy with the way things are going – that can change the way the country has been run the last couple of years.” 

NSJA’s mission is to create events and programming that will expose all cultures to positive images of African-American and Black culture, and they have worked diligently to draw attention to the fact that while the United States has legally created universal suffrage, Black Americans still don’t have equal status. 

“Our organization really exists to tell the story of African-Americans and Black Americans: who we are. what we contribute to society, that’s really our goal, and that’s what I would like to continue to do going forward,” Nicole added. 

In addition to the Hats and Heels High Tea (Why Vote?) in May, NSJA is planning two other events this year: The Juneteenth Flag Raising on June 9th at Lynn City Hall and the Juneteenth Family Fun Day on Lynn Commons on June 20th, and NSJA encourages everyone to attend these events. 

“Showing up really shows us that what we’re doing matters to the community,” Nicole explained, “The more that people show up and participate in our events and take part in what we’re doing, the more they’ll be aware of why we do what we do.” 

Join The North Shore Juneteenth Association on May 2 for Why Vote? Hats and Heels High Tea on May 2nd at Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts. Click here for tickets. 

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