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This image released by Disney shows a scene from Marvel Studios' "Black Panther."
Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios-Disney/AP
Citizenship

Real World Superheroes Are Registering Voters at ‘Black Panther’ Screenings Across the Country

Don’t forget to sign up to vote on your way out of the theater! 

As “Black Panther” continues to break box office records and break down stereotypes, a women-of-color-led initiative is capitalizing on the movie’s moment in the spotlight in order to drive voter registration. 

Wearing Wakanda-inspired outfits, in recognition of the fictional country in which the film is set, activists are registering new voters outside of “Black Panther” screenings across the country, Blavity reports. The initiative was started by three women — Kayla Reed, Jessica Byrd, and Rukia Lumumba — as a way to “engage our communities in the conversation of electoral justice,” Reed and Byrd told Blavity. 

The movement began this weekend and has continued to grow — with the Cut reporting activist-led voter registration drives at “Black Panther” showings in 50 cities

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And it couldn’t come at a better time. After black voter turnout reached record highs in 2012, it decreased by 7% in 2016, according to Pew Research Center.  

This drop was especially pronounced among black millennials. While turnout for younger voters increased among whites, Asians, and Hispanics, only 49.4% of black millennials voted in the 2016 election, compared to 55% the year before. 

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number 10: reduced inequalities. Currently fewer than 5% of elected officials in the US are black. Increasing political representation for minority populations is critical in the effort to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. You can join us and take action here. 

“Black Panther,” which was directed by a millennial (31-year-old Ryan Coogler), seemed to activists like a good place to activate voters from a younger, more diverse demographic. 

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The voter registration campaign is part of a larger initiative called the Electoral Justice Project (EJP), which Reed, Byrd, and Lumumba created in October of last year as a way to “meet our communities where they are, whether that's in the streets, at the city council meeting, or in the movie theater,” they told Blavity. 

Along with signing voters up at movies, the EJP is working with more than 50 black-led civic organizations to increase political engagement in black communities across the country, according to a video on their website

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At “Black Panther,” whose opening weekend domestic audience was nearly 40% black, activists had a little bit of fun too — donning costumes much like the ones seen in the movie. 

"We know that for some it's a superhero world, but we know that the world we deserve is still waiting to be built — and we want to build it,” the founders told Blavity. “This upcoming spring and November 2018 midterm elections are an important step in building that new world, and we want to take every opportunity to engage our communities in the conversation of electoral justice.”