The youth vote has the potential to be extremely influential in this upcoming election. While young people make up a large portion of the voting-eligible population, they’re less likely to get out and vote. In 2016, only 19% of people aged 18-29 cast a ballot in the presidential election. Two women best known as the ‘first ladies’ of BET'S 106 & Park are hoping to change that.
Free gained notoriety as one of the first hosts of BET’s 106 & Park Top 10 Live. While on the show she interviewed significant figures such as Michael Jackson and Beyonce and developed a large following as a hip-hop personality. That fueled her future career as a radio host for numerous stations. Free admits that she appreciates the new excitement regarding voting, being brought up in a community that didn’t necessarily prioritize it. She also commends Snoop Dogg (who's recently come out as being a first-time voter this year) for helping diminish the shaming culture of people who’ve never voted.
Rocsi Diaz also gained national notoriety as a host on 106 & Park, and later as an Entertainment Tonight correspondent. As a naturalized citizen originally from Honduras, Diaz pushes the privilege of voting, being that she didn’t even have the right to vote until the 2008 presidential election.
The two also discussed the recent influence of entertainers using their platforms to address voting and other social issues. Highlighted are Dayton, Ohio rapper YelloPain’s “My Vote Don’t Count” viral video and Atlanta rapper Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture.”
However, Rocsi suggests that an even bigger influence than famous entertainers are your local neighborhood celebs, “Your favorite barbershop probably has more influence than a celebrity.”
Although their BET platform no longer exists, Free and Rocsi intend to use their own followings to educate others on the voting process and prepare them for it through their upcoming Instagram TV series on Buzzfeed and Cocoa Butter.