Roots Picnic goes virtual with host Michelle Obama, hopes to reach voters

ByEric Moody WPVI logo
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Roots Picnic goes virtual with host Michelle Obama
The Roots Picnic is going virtual this year with a special guest host - former first lady Michelle Obama.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's legendary band The Roots plans to take this year's 13th Annual Roots Picnic festival virtual for the first time, with a special guest host - former first lady Michelle Obama.

This year's concert will be in partnership with Obama's nonpartisan, nonprofit organization When We All Vote founded in 2018. It's mission is focused around younger crowds to bring awareness towards voter registration.

The goal will be to reach 500,000 eligible voters through performances from a variety of hip hop, R&B, and gospel artists. Volunteers will be working to sign up unregistered voters.

"The partnership comes from a shared ethos of wanting to reach the most underrepresented community of people when it comes to voting, black people between the ages of 21-35," a statement from The Roots said.

Stephanie Young, Managing Director for Culture, Communications & Media Partnerships at When We All Vote said, "When We All Vote is on a mission to change the culture around voting and you can not change the culture if you're not apart of it."

Young says The Roots Picnic is a perfect opportunity to help change the culture around voting. "We want people talking about voting at times, in places and spaces where they don't normally do it," said Young. "We want people to look at voting as a habit and not something you do every once in a while."

Young says her organization's goal is to make sure Americans understand their rights when it comes to voting, as well as knowing how to exercise that right.

In 2016, two thirds of young eligible voters did not show up to the polls Young says. But she believes raising voter awareness around events like The Roots Picnic is one step closer to addressing this issue.

"Right now what we're facing with COVID-19, police violence and unrest that we've seen in the streets, we can now show Americans how voting on every level of government impacts their lives," said Young. "These are the people that are making decisions about your safety when it comes to COVID-19, but also making decisions about how their community is policed."

Young says unfortunately there's a lot of gaps with Americans knowing all of these things.

"We want to help illuminate how important and how impactful elected officials are in your life," Young added.

Young says if eligible voters are not choosing elected officials, someone else will.

"If we want to make sure we have leaders at the top that represent our values, whatever those may be, you can not miss out on election day," said Young. "And voting in each and every election, it's so crucial and so important."

This year's Roots Picnic performances include H.E.R., Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, Sza, Kirk Franklin, and D-Nice.

There will be appearances by Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, and more.

Originally, Meek Mill was to headline the May 30 concert at The Mann.

The 13th annual Roots Picnic will be hosted by Michelle Obama, Questlove, and Black Thought. It will now be streamed starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 on YouTube.