Temitope Amoye knows what a broken-down government system looks like, and she’s working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen in the U.S.
“I love my home, Nigeria, to death and I will always call it home,” says the first-generation Nigerian-American who’s now a state director at NextGen America, a nonprofit based in Virginia. “But people [there] are out for themselves, and it’s a government that doesn’t work for people. I think because I know what a broken-down government system looks like, … that has informed why I do the work that I do."
At NextGen America since April, 29-year-old Amoye is focused on reaching out to voters aged 18 to 35.
“This group will be the largest voting bloc this year,” she says. “We realize that there’s this misconception that young people don’t vote, and that is not true. If they are registered and if they are educated, they turn out at the same rate as their older peers.”
Amoye says her passion for politics developed further after seeing the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
“I realized that I wanted to help elect people who not just uphold the law but who create and write laws that protect people who look like me,” Amoye says.
She began volunteering for Bernie Sanders’ first presidential campaign in 2015, and continued her volunteer work with Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign this past year.
“When young people vote, change happens,” Amoye says. “If you look at the recent events, young people and young voters are at the forefront of protests against racial inequality and gender pay equality. When we vote, we make change.”
The next two weeks, Amoye says, will be crucial.
“If there ever was a time in history for us to use our voice, now is the time. We cannot make change in silence. We need each other and we need to make noise as a group.”