Influencers and creators find new ways to engage young Philadelphia voters

Photo: Sean Kitchen

By Sean Kitchen

April 23, 2024

Rec Philly, a space for creators and influencers, teamed up with Show Up Strong to get hundreds of young Philadelphia residents engaged in the political process.

Hundreds of young Philadelphians and creators gathered at Rec Philly, a creative space tucked away inside the former Gallery Mall, last Friday for a day-long event that’s designed to get millennials and Gen Zers engaged in the political process.

“I think this event is important that Rec can collaborate with Show Up Strong, an organization that’s all about raising awareness getting young people out to vote and register to vote because there’s so much nuance and complexity sometimes when it comes to the voting system,” Rec Philly founder Dave Silver told The Keystone.

The youth vote in last year’s election for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race skyrocketed on college campuses when compared to the previous time the court had a seat open in 2021, underscoring the importance of meeting young voters where they are organizing them.

Friday’s event, which was hosted by Show Up Strong, wasn’t your typical voter outreach or voter registration event.

Instead, it brought hundreds of young Philadelphians aged 18 to 35 to Rec Philly throughout the day and gave them a space to network with creators, listen to a series of panels and workshops and attend a mixer later that.

Attendees were asked to check their voter registration status or sign up to vote when they arrived, but that was it.

“I think a lot of the younger generation, they want to see a lot of certain changes, but they don’t know how to really get them implemented,” the Infamous YR, a Philadelphia musician and Rec Philly member, said in an interview.

“A big part of that is voting because the older crowd, they’re going to show up to vote every single time and out vote you.”

The panels focused on the importance of mental healthcare in Black and Brown communities, a voter education workshop for the upcoming election, the impacts street art has on social change featuring Daryl “Cornbread” McCray, one of the country’s first known graffiti artists, and a keynote panel on the importance of social media featuring prominent Philadelphia scholar Marc Lamont Hill.

Social media has been a tool for creatives and activists for decades, according to Hill, with the only difference being the way we consume it through our digital devices.

“A lot of times people think social media is new and it is in certain ways – digital stuff is new,” Hill said. “In the nineties when I was an activist, a team of activists, we were giving out flyers. That was our social media.”

“In the sixties, the fliers were social media. We’ve always used images and sound as a means of conveying a message.”


  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.



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