In both 2008 and 2012, black women nationwide voted in higher concentrations than any other demographic group. Nykidra Robinson noticed this and wondered what that voting bloc could do in even greater numbers. So last year, the 33-year-old former Maryland state and local government official founded Black Girls Vote, a nonpartisan, grassroots political organization.
“We are here to change the world,” says Robinson, a resident of Hanlon-Longwood in Northwest Baltimore. “Our goal is to let folks know . . . your power is in your voting voice.”
Since its first event in November 2015, Black Girls Vote has staged voter registration drives at malls, schools, and sporting events, signing up hundreds in the process. Robinson hopes that if black women vote in even greater numbers, more attention will be paid to economic inequality, education, and health care—issues she calls the “pillars” of the Black Girls Vote agenda.
The first test will be at the April 26 mayoral primary. Turnout for the 2011 primary hit a record low with just 23 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. Robinson is thinking of ways to prevent a repeat, including distributing umbrellas if it rains, hiring food trucks to park outside polling places, and encouraging day care centers to offer extended hours.
“Getting them registered is just one piece,” she says. “We have to get them to the polls, and we have to make it as convenient as possible.”