Thunder Teams Up With Urban League for Final Registration Drive

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter |

Depending on which entrance drivers used to enter the roundabout driveway to the Urban League on Sunday afternoon, they were greeted with either the rat-a-tat of the Thunder Drummers or the thumping bass of a Perry Broadcasting DJ booth. Either way, they were in for a fun treat as the sights and sounds of the Thunder’s final voter registration drive came into full view.

The Thunder partnered with the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City for its last voter registration event before the Oct. 9 deadline. Without ever leaving their cars, people could drive up to the booth and pick up a clear Thunder bag filled with everything necessary to register to vote­ – a voter registration form and a pre-stamped and addressed envelope for simple mailing. The bag also included free Thunder VOTE T-shirts and a box of face masks.

“Urban League has been a really wonderful partner with the Thunder for literally since the very beginning. They're also an NBA partner, and a voting initiative is something that's very important to them as well so this was just a no brainer to be here,” said Thunder Vice President of Community Relations Christine Berney. “We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do one of our community registration drives at the site.”

The Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City has been in existence for 73 years with the purpose of providing the go-to social services that relate to civil rights, equity and equality in their community. This year in particular, in the midst of a global pandemic and an ongoing fight for social justice, the message from the well-established institution was to empower communities of color and minorities to arm yourself with the power to vote. So when the OKC Urban League’s Vice President of community convening and social justice Jabar Shumate saw all of the cars rolling through the event on Sunday and leaving with registration forms, a wave of excitement washed over him.

WATCH: VOTE Teams Up With Urban League

“We knew that we had to be the ones out front saying ‘let’s exercise your right to vote’ because for 73 years, people in this community have trusted us to be that for them,” Shumate said. “We want people to know that the Thunder and the Oklahoma City Urban League are working together to do good things.”

Sunday’s event marked the third and final Thunder VOTE community registration drive before the Oct. 9 deadline to register. Under a clear blue sky and bright midday sunshine, the two organizations cheerfully dedicated their afternoons to ensure that the message to register to vote continued to spread as far as possible.

“We’ve all been so happy that we’ve been able to do [these events],” Berney said. “Who knows how many people it’s going to impact that maybe didn’t come through the drive today, but they think ‘oh yeah, I’d better register’ or ‘I’d better get an absentee ballot’. So just having the word out there, the awareness out there has been wonderful.”

Dennis and Cynthia French served as the perfect model of spreading voter awareness. The two had been registered to vote since they were both 18 and exuded the excitement of two people who were fully aware of their civic duty and voting power. Even still, they drove to the Urban League and the Thunder’s drive through registration event to support the efforts and to grab a couple of Thunder VOTE T-shirts along the way. The couple has been happily married for 27 years and have two adult sons who they make sure to call when it’s time to vote.

“We’re going to remind people to vote,” Cynthia French said with a wide smile and a small fist pump.

Her husband added: “We believe that you have the opportunity to vote and therefore you should go vote. But the big thing is we like to encourage other people to vote. We think it’s important that you get out and enjoy that opportunity that we have. It’s great.”

This has been the goal of the Thunder VOTE initiative from the beginning, to not only register as many eligible Oklahomans as possible, but to also help raise the awareness that each person has in their voice and their vote. With the help of the Urban League of Greater OKC on Sunday, the Thunder made one final push toward that goal before the Oct. 9 deadline to register.

“The things that the Thunder has been about this year has been amazing,” Shumate said. “The Urban League and the Thunder are one in the same in its message to get people to the polls and make sure their voices are heard.”


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