On Tuesday, Michelle Obama shared an important throwback photo on her Instagram that proved two things: silk slip dresses and getting young people to register to vote will never go out of style.
In a picture where then-Michelle Robinson un-awkwardly posted in an elaborate wicker chair beside her date and a table-top floral arrangement, Obama’s effortless prom throwback seemed like just simple Tuesday nostalgia. “Throwing it back to my 1982 prom night and this pink satin, polka-dotted dress,” she wrote. But, for the upcoming IGTV star and former first lady — who is timelessly admired — the caption served a much greater purpose: a call to action for young voters in the US to register to vote.
“If you’re a student or teacher, join the #PromChallenge with @WhenWeAllVote and @MTV and tell us what your school is doing to register students to vote — you could get a free prom for your school! Learn more at prom.mtv.com,” Obama continued in her caption. “You can also help me spread the word by posting your prom photo with #PromChallenge.”
According to the challenge’s website, 20 high schools will win up to $5,000 (£3,848) to put toward their school’s prom. Participants are asked to explain how they approach voter registration at their school, whether they are a student, teacher, or administrator, and how they plan to change the culture around civic engagement. The goal is to encourage as many young and first time voters to get involved and take the power their votes have seriously.
Given the uptick in political and environmental activism in recent years as Generation Z begins to come into its own, getting out to vote seems right on message. First time and Gen Z voters are expected to make up 10% of the total voting base in the 2020 election, according to a Pew Research Center study. They represent the most diverse voter group in history with 55% white and 45% nonwhite voters. Overall, it is projected that roughly 156 million people could vote in 2020 which represents an unprecedented increase from the 139 million people who voted in 2016.
With increasingly higher turnout rates among both Millennial and Gen Z voters, an encouragement like this from Obama to register and be politically engaged is more important than ever to keep that number growing. Plus, with any luck, thanks to #PromChallenge, we get to see a bunch of throwback prom photos from celebrities on our social media feeds.
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