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Protest Organize Participate: Empowering Young Voices in Houston, Texas
A Grassroots Movement to Get Young People Politically Active and Registered to Vote
In the bustling city of Houston, Texas, a dynamic and passionate movement is gaining momentum, inspiring young people to engage in the political process like never before. Meet Gion Thomas, the driving force behind "P.O.P. - Protest Organize Participate," a grassroots organization with a powerful mission: to get young people aged 18-35 registered to vote and politically active.
At the heart of P.O.P.'s vision lies a belief in the transformative power of young voices. The organization originated from a simple yet powerful idea - a political block party. Drawing inspiration from local businesses, artists, and festivals, the main event boasts captivating performances, resonating political speeches, and opportunities for meaningful conversations. This innovative approach to activism is an effort to meet young people where they are, engaging them in the political landscape while celebrating their unique culture and expressions.
The seeds of P.O.P. were planted a few years back, but the movement truly flourished in 2020, fueled by the tragic death of George Floyd. It was a moment that shook the nation, and Gion Thomas, now 30 years old and already a seasoned activist, knew it was time to take action. The streets were filled with protests, and the calls for change echoed nationwide. But Gion knew that change would require more than just raising voices - it would demand active participation in the system.
One of P.O.P.'s essential initiatives is clothing the unhouse. They also have a series of candidate forums where young people can interact directly with politicians, understanding their positions and holding them accountable. Through these forums, P.O.P. strives to empower young voters with knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions come Election Day.
The main event, P.O.P.'s signature block party, typically takes place in October or November, though the date remains fluid, considering the unpredictability of the times. The block party has emerged as an exciting space for young people to connect with like-minded peers and embrace their shared vision of a better future. The celebration is more than just revelry; it catalyzes change.
Talking to people and understanding their struggles is at the core of P.O.P.'s approach. Gion and his team deliberately go to where young people congregate - the clubs, bars, and parks - engaging them in conversations that matter. They speak their language, directly discussing issues impacting their lives, such as climate change, the economy, and trans-rights. P.O.P. believes in building bridges, connecting young people with the political sphere, and inspiring them to raise their voices on matters that profoundly affect their future.
Climate change is a pivotal concern for the young generation, and P.O.P. understands the urgency of the matter. To address this, the organization seeks to make better arguments for renewable energy, emphasizing how it can be an economic opportunity. A new wave of jobs and innovative ways of doing things can emerge from investing in sustainable practices, catering to economic growth and environmental preservation.
Equally crucial is the economy, especially for Black young people who face unique challenges. P.O.P. facilitates robust conversations about economic policies, striving to create a more equitable and inclusive economy for all. The organization acknowledges the intersections of various issues, understanding that they are not mutually exclusive but intertwined.
Gion Thomas recognizes the importance of inclusivity and intersectionality in activism. As he puts it, "I understand today it's trans and LGBTQ, and it's going back to the Black community." P.O.P. is not just about advocating for a single cause; it embraces a broader vision of unity and solidarity, acknowledging that the struggles of different communities are interconnected and must be addressed together.
P.O.P.'s efforts have reached over a thousand people throughout Harris County and Houston, sparking conversations and inspiring youth to take charge of their future. The organization is a testament to the power of young voices united for a common purpose.
The party with a purpose is just the beginning for P.O.P. After the festivities, the real work begins - getting young talent involved in politics, encouraging them to run for office or contribute to political campaigns. P.O.P. believes in cultivating a generation of leaders who are unafraid to challenge the status quo, who reject falling in line, and who are determined to make a meaningful impact on society.
The story of P.O.P. is a testament to the power of hope and resilience, the relentless pursuit of change, and the boundless potential of young people when they come together. You can learn more about P.O.P. or learn how to get involved HERE.