Virtual Power Fest drives voter engagement from Inglewood

By Alysha Conner | LA Wave Newspapers

INGLEWOOD — Power Fest 2020 encouraged residents to get involved and informed in the upcoming elections with the theme, #TogetherWeVote.

“I saw this year’s Power Fest as an opportunity,” said Glauz Diego, director of Arts and Culture for Community Coalition and Power Fest organizer. “Power Fest was an opportunity to use art and culture as a way to bring people together at a time when we’re told that we can’t engage with each other face-to-face.”

This year’s Power Fest was live-streamed Oct. 10 from the Miracle Theater, a live music and film venue in Inglewood. 

The three-hour festival was made available via YouTube and Zoom.

“Community Coalition was looking to host this live stream event at a studio,” said Owen Smith, co-owner of the Miracle Theater. “Dexter Story was the one who went out on a limb and said, ‘Let’s keep it right here in South L.A., and let’s take it to Inglewood.’ … Once they arrived here, the group from Community Coalition realized real quickly that they were in the right place.”

Power Fest, operated by the Community Coalition, has been used as a political platform to inform and empower the South L.A. community since 2011.

Community Coalition is a local nonprofit organization that provides preventative community-centered solutions for social and economic conditions in South L.A. 

Actor Kareem J. Grimes and Mexican-Australian singer-songwriter Maya Jupiter co-hosted the festival.

“It’s an opportunity and honor really to be a voice and get this information out to my Black and brown family,” Grimes said. “You get opportunities like this, and you run to them.”

The music festival consisted of quarantine-style performances from Rapsody, DJ Andre Power, Ari Lennox, Reyna Tropical, Duckwrth, San Cha, Rae Khalil and D-Smoke.

“For us, it’s important that we bring art and culture to communities that oftentimes have to go outside of their community even to experience art and culture,” Diego said. “It was about bringing entertainment, healing and joy, while also trying to educate folks and energize folks around this election.”

To connect the arts with political activism, community leaders provided voters with insight, tools, and resources throughout the event.

Alberto Retana, CEO of Community Coalition, facilitated a panel discussion about local issues and the ballot’s different propositions through Zoom.

Each panelist spoke about crucial propositions that will affect people of color, making them more understandable for voters.

Dolores Huerta, an American labor leader and civil rights activist, presented on Proposition 16.

Huerta inspired viewers to vote yes on the initiative to restore affirmative action to California.

“Our young folk out there need to know that yes, it is important that we protest, and it’s important that we march, but we also have to vote,” Huerta said.

Rebecca Gonzalez, a 17-year-old youth advocate for Community Coalition, served as an advocate for voting Yes on Proposition 18 to lower the voting age to 17.

Pastor Eddie Anderson of McCarty Memorial Christian Church in South L.A. explained how voting Yes on Measure J would also help “reimagine the morals of L.A.”

“The Bible says, ‘Where your heart is, there your treasure will also be,’” Anderson said. “Right now, in Los Angeles, if you look at our budget, our budget values incarceration. Right now, our budget values criminalization. Right now, our budget values are a disparity in health care. Measure J says that’s not where our values are.”

Ingrid Archie, the civic engagement coordinator for A New Way of Life, encouraged viewers to vote No on Proposition 20.

She explained that if Proposition 20 is passed, it would increase punishment for certain crimes and prevent some prisoners from being considered for early parole.

Advocates also held discussions endorsing viewers to vote yes on Propositions 15, 17 and 21.

“Some people have hit me up on social media to tell me that they enjoyed the festival,” said Grimes, the Power Fest co-host. “They felt like they were informed and had a better understanding of what these propositions mean.”

Kirk Samuels, Community Coalition’s director of civic engagement, also participated in an informative sit-down discussion with the festival hosts.

Samuels told those watching from home to double-check their ballots for misprints, after mentioning how some Woodland Hills residents received ballots without the presidential candidate section.

He suggested that residents have a voting plan by providing tools and resources for local voting, which can be found on the Community Coalition website.

Samuels also listed upcoming important dates like Oct. 19 being the last day to register to vote, voting centers opening on Oct. 24, and the extension for census reporting until Oct. 31.

Community Coalition will be hosting a ballot watching event every Thursday until Election Day at South L.A. Cafe.

“It takes a village,” Grimes said. “It takes everyone coming together for one cause and making sure people are sticking to what they’re saying they’re going to do.”

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