Mo Bamba Talks to Youth About Importance of Voting During Virtual Town Hall
ORLANDO - Ever since the Orlando Magic drafted him in 2018, Mo Bamba has been a positive role model for Central Florida youth. He revels in encouraging kids and helping them reach their full potential.
Explaining to students just how important it is to vote, even if they aren’t old enough yet to do so, is also something the 7-footer is happy to do because of the huge impact it can make.
That’s precisely what he did on Thursday afternoon during an interactive town hall Zoom call with 20 Orlando students who attend either Evans or Jones High School. Hosted and moderated by Magic Director of Public Relations Trish Wingerson, Bamba took questions from the teenagers, who learned about the 22-year-old’s beliefs when it comes to voting and having a say in who our leaders are.
“Voting to me is everything and I learned that at a pretty young age, whether if it was you vote for your next class president or you vote who wants a pizza party or an ice cream party, you vote to do whatever,” Bamba said. “Voting has always been a pretty big part of my life. I see a fit in talking to high school students and kids from the age of thirteen to eighteen on this issue because I didn’t really have anyone to point out the importance of voting as far as government officials. To me that’s the biggest thing.”
How young Black voters become engaged when they don’t receive voter education in school, how they should engage in the election process when not understanding how politics have a direct impact on their lives and how to start conversations about the political process without offending anyone were topics Bamba addressed during the call.
Another interesting question asked was how students can mobilize around issues that are important to them, and Bamba’s advice was very inspiring.
“To me, this is going to sound very cheesy but this is actually something I really believe in as far as a movement. I think the Golden State Warriors have a saying of ‘Strength in Numbers’ and I think that’s perfectly suitable for any issue,” he said. “I went to a school where the students had a say in a lot of things. And if we felt as if we were tired of having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner on Wednesdays then we would gather together, sign a petition, figure out who to talk to and really create change, figure out proper ways to do it. It really starts from ‘Strength in Numbers.’ You get a bunch of people who believe in what you believe in. There’s almost certainty that there will be change.”
Also on the virtual call was Sherri Gonzales, the regional executive director of Children’s Home Society, which offers a variety of services that help youth stay safe and accomplish their goals. Extremely appreciative of Bamba and the Magic organization for holding the event, Gonzales has seen the difference it makes when those who children admire, including their favorite sports teams and athletes, take time out of their day to lift them up and give critical advice.
“We are so grateful to the Magic and to you Mr. Bamba for hosting this discussion today with our high school students on the importance of voting,” she said. “Our community partnership school model at both Evans and Jones High School is based on collaboration with our partners, which truly helps to continue to afford our students with impactful opportunities just like this one today.”
Bamba, who just completed his second year in the NBA, will himself be voting in a U.S. presidential election for the first time in his life this year, which he is very excited about. Just last week, he celebrated National Voter Registration Day at Amway Center, where he and Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford cheered on residents who were either registering to vote or checking their voter registration status.
At the beginning of September, the Magic and the City of Orlando announced that Amway Center will be an early voting location for Orange County residents. From Oct. 19 until Nov. 1 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day), registered voters from the county will be able to cast their ballot at the Magic’s home arena on the north side of the building at the Church Street entrance inside the Disney Atrium.
The Magic have been doing everything in their power recently to increase voter turnout. Opening up the arena for early voting is one major way. Another, as Clifford recently pointed out, is through the Magic’s social media accounts, which reach a great deal of people, especially younger people who may have never voted before.
All of the activity at Disney during the NBA season restart has also been huge in spreading the word.
Even for those who aren’t eligible to vote yet, like the students on Thursday’s call, Bamba is encouraging them to still get involved in any way they can.
“I would say register to vote early, as early as sixteen (when pre-registration begins in Florida). That way you get the process out of the way,” he suggested. “And I would say look into more than just the presidential election. Look into the state legislation, look into what’s going on in the city. I would say look at all of the small things that lead up to the bigger picture.”