2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, granting African-American men the right to vote. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which allowed women the right to vote.
It is also the year students like Irving High School senior Beyonce Johnson will cast their first votes.
“It amazes me because of how times have changed,” she says. “We’ve grown so much. I’m able to vote, and I’m only 18 and I’m African-American and a female.”
Johnson was one of approximately 100 seniors from Irving High School who registered to vote, thanks to a voter registration drive held at the school last Friday. A collaboration with the League of Women Voters, the event aimed to not only register all eligible seniors but also discuss the importance of using your voice in the electoral process.
“Ultimately, this event isn’t about party or ideology. It was about our youngest voters understanding they have a role to play in our government,” says Todd Allen, who teaches AP Government and Politics at Irving High. “Today was about increasing efficacy. My hope is our students gained more than just an eligibility to vote; they gained awareness and appreciation for the electoral process.”
For Johnson, it is an opportunity to have her voice heard.
“We talk about how our generation, how our age group isn’t interested in voting,” she says. “We have a lot to say about the people in office and events that go on around the world. But we just say it behind closed doors; nobody actually takes action. This is the action that can open those doors. We do have a voice, and if we want to be heard we have to vote.”