By Tina Smith-Brown
Youth voting is trending all over America; it only made sense to create an event that would highlight and support these efforts. That’s exactly what #TrendThatJawn accomplished a week ago. On October 26, 2022, #VoteThatJawn invited a nonpartisan group of youth, educators, and organizations to gather in the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia’s City Hall.
The social media Jawn was live-streamed and young people lit up their phone screens with tweets and posts throughout the event. Representatives from PA Youth Vote and youth poet laureate Telicia Darius were on hand. They were joined by Philadelphia Commissioners Lisa Deeley, Omar Sabir, and Seth Bluestein, PA’s 188th Legislative District’s State Rep. Rick Krajewski, and representatives from The Committee of Seventy who came to answer questions about the voting process.
Teaming up with this group of political powerhouses was Dr. Tony Watlington, newly appointed Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, and F. Christopher Goins, the new president of Girard College, and builder of My Brother’s Keeper of the Obama Foundation in Chicago. This helped to solidify
the support of city educators to outreach for the youth vote.
Guests were greeted outside of City Hall by the soulful strikes of the Mad Beatz Drumline and welcomed inside by the brilliant, rhythmic voices of Franklin Learning Center’s Band. Both gifted performances set the tone for a powerful evening. The guests were treated to “A Taste of Philly,” by a local caterer, and giveaways from Fresh Artists’ first Vote That Jawn Jr. logo contest. They were also able to vote for the next logo, designed by local youth.
#TrendThatJawn, originated by #VoteThatJawn, the brainchild of Professor Lorene Cary of the University of Pennsylvania, has created a formidable connection among first-time and seasoned voters, students, and city leaders. It has begun a pathway toward full citizenry involvement, which will eventually lead to the youth vote, and the advocacy of other social change practices.