On Saturday, December 26th, 50+ artists and hundreds of thousands of viewers around the world came together for Georgia Comes Alive, a virtual music festival aimed at promoting voter participation in Georgia’s critical Senate runoff elections on January 5th, 2021.
One of the many captivating speakers who took part in potent conversations was Mary-Pat Hector, the youngest member of HeadCount‘s board of directors. Hector has made a habit of achieving rapid success in her various endeavors—when she was just 19, she became the youngest person ever to run for office in Georgia, and lost the highly contested Stonecrest city council election by just 22 votes. Through her early experience in the political deep end and the razor-thin margins of her own candidacy, Hector understands the integral role that she and her generation can and will have on the future of our country.
During her interview with GCA host and SiriusXM personality Ari Fink, Hector stressed that HeadCount—much like during her own campaign—”is an organization that sees being young as an asset instead of a liability.” Jumping into the asset that is Hector’s youth, she discussed her campaign for local office as a “learning experience” that helped her grow, setting the stage for what has already been a promising career in activism. As for whether or not she would consider running again in the future, Hector told Fink,
Right now my focus is just the work, on the ground getting as many young people to participate in the political process. In my community, there are a lot of young people but they weren’t registered to vote and I think about all the votes that we missed not being able to do that. I think taking a [page] out of Stacey Abrams‘ [book] would be right before I decide to run for office again, but just making sure that people within the community have their tools and they’re exercising their right to just show up and vote before I put myself out there again, and just go through school. I’m currently a grad student and so I want to finish that before I decide to run again.
Hector, now 22 and in law school at Georgia State University, also took viewers through a tour of her work with local, grassroots organizations such as her roles as a program strategist at Rise and as a coordinator at Georgia Black Youth Vote. With Rise, she developed Black The Vote and Run With It Georgia, the latter of which invested $2,000 in individual projects from young students in the state of Georgia. Black The Vote also trained 500 students across the country to become poll monitors, teaching them how to become poll workers, serve as election protection monitors on election day, and help fight against voter suppression.
Despite the pandemic, Hector and her ever-growing team of dedicated activists have also been pounding the pavement throughout the Peach State spreading crucial information on the upcoming election.
So many of our work with Black Youth Vote has been going into those rural parts of Georgia, knocking on doors—I know we’re literally in the middle of a pandemic and many people are like “y’all are crazy”—but the truth is there are communities in the stage of Georgia that don’t have broadband, that don’t know what’s happening on TV, that don’t have social media and need to know that there is an election coming up. And when we are in those communities in, like, South Georgia and they’re like “okay, we just voted,” yeah, you voted in November but you have to show up and vote again in January. And just explaining to them the importance of the Senate race because, sadly, many people don’t know unless you tell them.
Fink also asked Hector to shed some light on the work going on behind the scenes of these movements and what is propelling this record level of participation. First off, Hector highlighted the work of Black women in leadership roles in these organizations. Beyond the highly publicized work of activists like Stacey Abrams, she made sure to recognize those who aren’t getting national headlines who assisted her like Tamieka Atkins, Helen Butler, Debra Scott, and more. According to Hector, young people have also provided much of the momentum for this action, “so while I like to believe that I’m the only 22-year-old out here doing the darn thing in Georgia, I am not.”
Below, watch Mary-Pat Hector talk with Air Fink about local politics, HeadCount, doing the work, and much more at Georgia Comes Alive. If you enjoyed the show and have the means, consider donating to Georgia grassroots voter organizations via GeorgiaComesAlive.com. Subscribe to the Live For Live Music YouTube channel for more Georgia Comes Alive videos. Georgia residents can find info on polling places, mail-in ballots, and more here.
Georgia Comes Alive Conversations – Mary-Pat Hector (HeadCount) & Ari Fink
Mary-Pat Hector joined 50+ other performers and speakers as part of Georgia Comes Alive, presented by Live For Live Music in partnership with voter registration nonprofit HeadCount. The marathon streaming event, powered by Nugs.TV and Plus 1, generated more than $160,000 in funds for organizations like CivicGeorgia and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda that are putting in work on the ground to get Georgians out to the polls. For more information, head here.