As the push continues to get Black voters to the polls this election season, actor Kendrick Sampson, best known for his role on the hit HBO show “Insecure,” has also joined in on the push. Sampson hosted the ‘Our Power: From the Polls to the Streets’ voting rally on Saturday, Oct. 17, at Root Memorial Square in downtown Houston, Texas.
Dozens of voters, 10 grassroots organizations, and several Houston City Council members showed up to not only encourage citizens to vote, but they took it a step further by marching to the polls to vote collectively during early voting in Texas. “The whole country is looking at us here in Harris County,” Sampson explained. “If we turn out in record numbers and kill it, right, we flip Texas. Which is a monumental, historical event right, and so we need to do that. We need to do everything we can to make that possible. We can fight, we can win, and we will only win if we fight.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Harris County is the largest county in Texas, and according to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, over 2 million people are registered to vote.
Te’ iva Bell, a Harris County Democratic judge candidate, also took the opportunity to spread awareness during the march, but she says marching is not enough. “I wish we voted like we marched. We march because we want things to happen in our community, but the reality of the situation is marching does nothing if we don’t take the steps to vote and attain the power needed to make the differences in our communities. The things we want like criminal justice reform — it’s on the ballot. What we want to do is end police brutality — all of those things are on the ballot; but if we don’t vote, we don’t get the changes, and we still see the same things over and over and over.”
Sasha Legette, executive director of grassroots organization Pure Justice, spoke at the rally on Saturday. She passionately expressed that she is tired of the injustices the Back community continues to face. She explained why her organization is amplifying its voices for change. “A lot of us represent groups and organizations of people who have been almost cast out, counted out, and just disrespected by our current administration,” Sasha said. “I’m not here to tell anybody who to vote for, but I am telling people that they are human, that they matter, that they should be treated equal and that they should have fairness and equity in this country that they help run and they help build every single day.”
Tarsha Jackson admitted that in the past, she would never show up to polls. After experiencing injustice firsthand in 2002, when police arrested her 10-year-old special needs son at his elementary school, she knew how urgent it was to let others know they can make a difference. “We wanna let the people know that you can change things with your voice.” Jackson said. “With your voice, you can elect someone that shares your vision. You can elect someone that looks like us, that knows all we’re going through, that have walked in our shoes. Also, with our voice, with our vote, we can hold them accountable and remove them from office when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Sampson shared this message: “Dr. Melina Abdullah always says nobody ever voted their way to freedom, right?” “This is a tool that we can utilize for liberation, and we have to use every tool in our toolbox because these systems are so powerful. But the resource that they don’t have a lot of is people, and we have way more people than they do, right! So, let’s utilize that power that we have.”
According to TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, Texas has seen an increase of roughly 1.8 million registered voters since the 2016 presidential election.