The Dallas Examiner
Voting is considered a privilege and a responsibility in the United States. However, not everyone takes advantage of it, especially the current generation. Only 31% of youth, ages 18-29, voted in the 2018 midterm elections, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
To increase the number of millennials and males to vote, Karon Flewellen, who was a candidate for Dallas City Council District 4, decided to host an event that would encourage everyone to show up at the polls on May 4.
“The statistics say that in DFW currently, only about 1% of millennials vote,” Flewellen said. “I understand they don’t vote mostly because they don’t understand the issues, so they don’t see how it affects them. One of the things that I decided when I ran for City Council is that I wanted to make a much different type of impact.”
Flewellen, along with Nicole Paradigm Media, presented the Real Men Vote Charity Basketball Game on April 27 at the Cummings Recreation Center. High school seniors from South Oak Cliff and Roosevelt High School assisted with the event.
The charity event included local artists and celebrities, such as Marc Harlem, Yung Syre, Blaq Ron, Body the Beast and Ron D.
“‘Real men vote’ means that there is a lot of good men out here, and sometimes they get taken away from a lot of stuff. So I am here to support the real men in the world, and we don’t get acknowledged from the world,” said Harlem, a rapper with a record label who also owns seven halfway houses.
The game showcased the Blue Squad vs. the Red Squad. The Red Squad won, 105-86. Proceeds from the event benefited a local food pantry that supports the homeless student population in District 4, which includes Southern Dallas.
“Our world starts in the community, and when you get a chance to be a part of the community, you got to get involved,” said Ron Davis Sr., an impact programming consultant and an athlete who participated in the basketball game.
“Real men vote. Voting is something that is real debatable around the world, but when you talk about local voting, it is even bigger when you talk about everyday men stepping up to the community and being responsible for ourselves.”
Flewellen said she is passionate about the community because she said the community has given back to her family.
Growing up in South Dallas, Flewellen’s mom owned a hair salon in the district. When her father passed away three months after her mom bought the salon, her mom became a single mother raising five children.
“She said to me, because the community rallied around her and gave her so much support, she decided to build her business around the community. So she always had efforts that she did to kind of build the community here,” Flewellen said.
“So our business model is ‘Building Communities Builds Business.’ So that is my connection to the community. When my mother retired, I inherited or bought the business, and I took on the same mantra that ‘Building Communities Builds Business.”
Flewellen’s additional efforts in community engagement include drug rehab and HIV awareness.
“I wanted to make an impact on kind of the forgotten people. The people who generally don’t get engaged and don’t get involved. I believe that if they felt like there was a place for them, they would get involved more. Our children are our future. My whole campaign is to just engage the community at large.”
Flewellen’s focus on male voters began after conversing with her nephew who wanted to help do something to get young male voters to vote.
“Today was about bringing in the young men voters and just doing something with young men voters and millennials at large, so that we can have a conversation about the power of their vote and then bring them to the table, because I want to have a special arm in my platform that specifically targets and engages millennials,” she said. “Everything is knowledge-based, so if they don’t feel like they understand the issues, or they don’t feel like they are being targeted directly or engaged directly, not just men but people at large, then they don’t get involved.
I believe that if you go to the population that is really not voting, because they don’t understand the issues, they feel like it really doesn’t affect them.”
The event was also designed to give young people something to do in their own area so they didn’t have to go across town.
“I wanted them to have something positive to do in this area that is moving the needle and hasn’t been done before,” she said. “The proceeds benefit the student homeless population and we are trying to show the community our heart and that we care, and that I am not some distant, off-beat politician.”
It was also an opportunity for youth to engage seniors.
“I have a lot of respect for seniors and a lot of respect for youth, and I believe that if we can bring them together on the same platform, then we can make a difference in our community. The seniors, if they feel the youth really care about them, then it gives them a reason to live. In the same token, if we can have our young people connected and engaged with our seniors, I think it would help them make a connection, feel involved in the community, and give them a sense of pride. Ultimately, we want to bring seniors and millennials together, and they can mentor each other.”
Marc Dunbar, a chiropractor, attended the event because he wanted to support the charity’s efforts.
“I love that tagline, ‘Real Men Vote,’ because it drew a crowd today, and it will inspire some men to vote who would naturally not vote,” Dunbar said. “It brings awareness for one, and events such as this that can grab a man’s attention. Men typically likes sports, so having a sporting event with a cause such as this is beneficial across the board.”