Black Youth Vote in 2020: Protests and Politics


HIT Strategies and GenForward Survey at the University of Chicago are partnering to host Young Black Voters in the 2020 Election — a critical conversation regarding how young Black voters will impact the 2020 election cycle, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and greater call for racial equity.

During the 90-minute virtual conversation which will take place via Zoom, HIT Strategies Partner Terrance Woodbury and GenForward Principal Investigator Cathy Cohen will present data on the role that Black voters under 50 will play in this election cycle, their attitudes towards the issues and national priorities, and the best messages to mobilize them.

The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with Color of Change PAC Spokesperson Rashad Robinson, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry of Wake Forest University, and Mercedes Fulbright with the Working Families Party. The conversation will tie together recent events of racial justice protests along with the potential electoral consequences of the young people that are leading these protests. How are young people shifting attitudes towards racism and how does this fit into campaign efforts to mobilize young voters around their top issue priority? This event will examine the crucial role that young lack voters will play in this election cycle, and gauge current mobilization efforts in the midst of a volatile social political environment.


Terrance Woodbury – Partner, HIT Strategies

Terrance’s research focuses on people of color and millennials who have become the driving force of rapidly evolving consumer and electoral trends in both the United States and abroad. Terrance has spent the last two cycles as Research Director at Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies where he conducted polling and focus groups for candidates in local, state, national, and international elections and for innovative companies such as Uber and Google.

Before spending four years at Brilliant Corners, Terrance worked at the Brookings Institution, where he focused on the impacts of economic and demographic trends that are shaping the fastest growing urban communities around the world.

Terrance’s life before research was still consumed by politics where he worked in various capacities on campaigns at the local, state, national, and international level. He has worked every position on a campaign except the candidate, and he has no intention of ever baring that burden. 

Rashad Robinson – Spokesperson, Color of Change PAC 

Rashad Robinson is the lead spokesperson for Color Of Change PAC, the nation’s largest Black led, volunteer driven political force. COC PAC creates winning strategies to convert heightened outrage over racial injustice into a new wave of Black political participation, one that plays a decisive role in local, state and federal races. In 2018, the COC PAC program #VotingWhileBlack brought together 15,000 volunteers and engaged 2.5 million Black voters, many new to politics who were essential to achieving progressive victories across 10 politically critical states. Notable recent #VotingWhileBlack victories in prosecutor races, including in Philadelphia, Chicago, Orlando, Houston and St. Louis, are now accelerating criminal justice reforms across the country. Rashad is a sought after speaker and appears regularly as a quoted source, interview guest and opinion writer in major media. He was among the first in a global cohort of Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, and writes a monthly column about race, politics and corporate accountability for The Guardian.

Cathy Cohen – Professor, Principal Investigator and Founder, GenForward Survey

Cathy J. Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and former Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and co-editor with Kathleen Jones and Joan Tronto of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader (NYU, 1997). Cohen currently serves as co-editor with Frederick Harris of a book series from Oxford University Press entitled “Transgressing Boundaries: Studies in Black Politics and Black Communities.”

Cohen’s general field of specialization is American politics, although her research interests include African American politics, lesbian and gay politics, and social movements. Her work has been published in numerous journals and edited volumes including the American Political Science ReviewGLQNOMOS and Social Text. She has also been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including recently a Robert Wood Johnson Investigator’s Award and a Ford Foundation research award for her work on African American youth. 

Mercedes Fulbright – Texas Organizing Director, Working Families Party

Mercedes is the Texas Organizing Director for Working Families Party, a grassroots, multiracial political party of working people coming together across our differences to make our nation work for the many, not the few. She previously worked for Local Progress, a project of the Center for Popular Democracy, working with community organizations and local progressive electeds across Texas to pass progressive policy solutions at the municipal level. She is a strategist with the Electoral Justice Project, a national table with the Movement for Black Lives (Black Lives Matter). She is the former Special Assistant to the President at Paul Quinn College, a historically Black College in Dallas, Texas. Under her management, she assisted in launching the African American Leadership Institute, a Dallas-based think tank housed at Paul Quinn, for the study and advancement of public policy, economic development, civic engagement, and leadership development as it relates to the African American community and Black elected officials throughout the state of Texas. She previously worked for Young People For (YP4), a program of People for the American Way Foundation, in Washington, DC. She developed a critically conscious curriculum for strategic youth leadership development training and oversaw their national civic engagement and voter mobilization campaigns with many of her projects in North Carolina to combat voter suppression.

She is a member of the Dallas chapter of BYP100 and represents the national organization as a Co-chair of the C4 Board of Directors. She is an experienced and respected voice on political strategy, racial justice advocacy, effective progressive leadership training, grassroots organizing, and public policy. Her life’s work builds at the intersections of electoral politics and social justice developing socially conscious young leaders in marginalized communities to combat inequities with a global lens.

Mercedes received her Master’s in Public Administration and Public Policy from the University of Texas at Arlington and her BA in Political Science from the University of North Texas.

Melissa Harris-Perry – Professor, Wake Forest University

Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. She is the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, whose mission is to advance justice through intersectional scholarship.

She is also founder and co-director of the innovative bi-partisan program, Wake the Vote. For more than a decade, Harris-Perry has contributed to American public life through her distinct combination of scholarly analysis and ordinary wisdom applied to the analysis of race, gender, politics, and power. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other print and digital venues. She was among the initial cohort of writers for The, and authored highly regarded columns for both Essence and The Nation. Currently, she is editor-at-large for and a contributing editor at The Nation.

Committed to diversifying American journalism and mentoring emerging public voices, Professor Harris-Perry has developed and implemented innovative mentoring efforts including the scholars program centering the stories of women and girls of color, and BLACK ON CAMPUS, a national student journalism program in partnership with The Nation.

She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops Bibles, and Bet: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.

Along with Dorian Warren, Harris-Perry is a principal and co-host of Freedom on Tap, an independent media project combining live events, digital, and audio content. She hosted the award winning television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend morning son MSNBC. In 2016, she won the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism.

Black Youth Vote Join HIT and Gen Forward to discuss young Black voters in 2020.