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Young Activists in Eugene Prepare to Cast Their Ballot

Elizabeth Gabriel


From police reform to climate change policies and healthcare access—there’s a lot on the line for young voters in this presidential election. Young Democratic and Republican activists of color in Eugene are prepared to make their voices heard this Nov.


It’s almost that time again. The next presidential inauguration is around the corner and counties across the state are reporting record breaking voter turnout as people mail-in and drop-off their ballots.

23-year-old Angela Noah is a sophomore at the University of Oregon and reigning Miss Indian UO. Over the years, she’s used her platform to advocate for better healthcare and basic necessities for reservations, as well as for proper Indigenous land usage and environmental issues. Policies she doesn’t think would improve if President Donald Trump is re-elected.

“It’s really scary that this government and some of the decisions that have [been] made do not include native people—do not include Indigenous narratives," Noah said. "And they’re wiping us out, they’re erasing us. And that's why we fight hard, that’s why we’re taking up the space—because our lives depend on it.”

She’s also fighting for her people to receive respect and recognition in the community. 

On Indigenous People’s Day, formally known as Columbus Day, President Trump gave credit to Christopher Columbus for discovering America. And that didn’t sit well with Noah.

“That discounts Indigenous narratives—that discounts me and my people. So he needs to recognize that Native people have been here, we were here, are going to continue to be here," said Noah. "And for me, I feel like then we can work together. But until he recognizes that, I don’t think he’s in favor for us.”

And after the pandemic, civil rights protests and other events of 2020, there’s a lot at stake in this election. The vote of people of color may lean more blue. Which is why Trump has made an effort to reach out to certain demographics. Such as through Blacks for Trump campaign ads.

Black Lives Matter activist Tyshawn Ford doesn’t believe the hype. But that doesn’t mean the 20-year-old automatically sides with the Democratic Party. During many local Black Unity protests, the leader has said he doesn’t feel represented by either party.

“We are not a political movement. We do not give a f— that Trump is a Republican.  I cannot be clear enough," said Ford. "The Republican Party and the Democratic Party is not for Black lives. We are fighting for human rights, civil rights.”


Credit Elizabeth Gabriel / KLCC News
Tyshawn Ford stands in front of a mural in downtown Eugene of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

But he’s hoping to see more change if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected.

"If Biden wins, I think we have a good chance of defunding the police for sure," said Ford. "Here in Eugene, I think we have a really good chance of defunding the police just because I think the city officials are really starting to listen. They're' starting to understand what’s happening, and they're starting to want to have these conversations with us.”

But not every young person of color is in favor of police reform. 

22-year-old Andrew Lee is a senior journalism major at the UO. Like many Americans, he joined the TikTok craze that swept the nation this summer with short videos set to music. But he said what started as a space to share cheerleading and tumbling videos, turned into a platform for him to safely share his political viewpoints.

“A lot of people of color who are conservative are closet conservatives because they fear being disowned by their own communities,” said Lee.

Lee said he’s lost about 20 friends over the summer—all because of where he stands politically. He’s even been called racist names because of his beliefs.

“I always get called—on TikTok a lot—you don’t like your own kind," Lee said. "‘Oh, another Asian person hating other Asians.’”

Lee's TikTok following is growing, with more than 17,000 followers on the social media platform. And he’s continued to use TikTok to advocate his support for President Donald Trump.  Lee now has 15,000 followers on the social media platform. And he’s continued to use TikTok to advocate his support for President Donald Trump.

Now Lee hopes more people will do their research and consult both liberal and conservative news outlets when deciding who to vote for this year.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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