A concerted effort focused on raising awareness of the issues important to voting age millennials of color took place in Boyle Heights less than a week before the Nov. 8 election.
The volunteers met Tuesday trough Thursday at InnerCity Struggle’s headquarters on Boyle Street.
“We are focused generally on 18-34 year olds but particularly on 18-24 year olds,” said Luis Sánchez, YVote director. “One out of every three folks in California are now millennials.”
“I actually think that their generation is the most activist we’ve seen in a long time,” said Sánchez.
One of those millennials was YVote volunteer Jhoana Ascensión, who said she reached out to other millennials because she wanted them to know that this election is not only about choosing a new president, but also about the local issues that affect them.
“I went to Roosevelt when there were a lot of cutbacks of teachers and resources. Some of the propositions on the ballot are going to deal with education,” said Ascensión.
This was one of the motivating factors that moved Ascensión to volunteer her services, but it wasn’t her only reason.
“I actually can’t vote. I’m undocumented. This is my way of making sure my community’s voice could be heard,” she said.
Sánchez said YVote began this campaign primarily because African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans have gained a tremendous voting power that could potentially change a system that is not working for them.
Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council President Mynor Godoy was part of the YVote Movement Strategy Center Team that coordinated the L.A. Youth Vote program locally.
“For me, a lot of the things that are being discussed in this particular election are very personal. From housing, which is a major issue in Boyle Heights to prison reform and how our criminal justice system operates,” said Godoy.
“For too long we’ve been investing more in prisons than we have in schools,” added Godoy.
He also said this is the first election were millennials can help start breaking that down by addressing under-resourced schools, a high dropout rate and prison overcrowding.
Ascensión may have summed it up best when she said this effort is a millennials helping millennials campaign, where she got great pleasure from reaching out to her peers.
One of the persons she spoke with was not planning to vote because he was disillusioned about the presidential election. After talking to him about some of the propositions and her own experiences, she was able to convince him to get out and vote.
“Being from the same generation, he knew where I was coming from. We’re all motivated to be here. We really want young people to go out and vote,” said Ascensión.
Godoy said the three-day event in Boyle Heights was just one part of YVotes plans. The organization will continue working after the November 8 election, leading through to the 2018 mid-term elections in California.
Photo above: YVote volunteers gather in front of InnerCity Struggle’s Boyle Street headquarters in Boyle Heights. All photos by Art Torres for Boyle Heights Beat.