Early in the week, rapper Killer Mike went viral with his speech at an Atlanta mayoral press conference. In his comments, he outlined a two-pronged approach to social justice: on-the-ground activism and voting.
“Now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize,” he said in front of cameras. “It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It is time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs.
“It is the responsibility of us to make this better right now,” he said.
This week, millions of Americans have tried to vouch for a better world in the wake of George Floyd’s death by peacefully organizing.
On Tuesday, millions cast their ballots in local, state, and presidential primaries.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, and the demonstrations that have ensued, teams and leagues have all issued their statements. Some have been better than others. But few, if any, have said what the America East Men’s basketball coaches have.
After a generic first paragraph, the coaches commit to making election day a “mandatory day off.”
“We also commit to make November 3, Election Day, a mandatory off day for all nine of our teams to encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote,” the statement said.
The America East is a college sports conference made up of nine universities in the northeast. You may remember one America East school, UMBC, as the men’s basketball team that pulled off the greatest upset in men’s March Madness history. The school athletic department also has a pretty good social media presence.
It shouldn’t take a group of mid-major coaches to point out election day should be an off day, but here we are.
According to Pew Research data, the U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout. In 2016, a mere 56 percent of Americans old enough to vote actually did so. And while some lawmakers want to expand voting rights and make election day a holiday, others want to hold the status quo of low voter turnout.
Giving citizens more time to vote on election day should not be a partisan issue. But, of course, it is.
As Killer Mike said, reforming the systems folks are protesting takes organizing power and voting power.
The America East Men’s Basketball coaches seem to recognize the importance of election day it makes for an unsuitable work day. Come November, the coaches and staff will get extra time to “beat up” the politicians and prosecutors they don’t like.
Imagine if the entire country had that same opportunity.