Why vote? A conversation with Down Home Fellow Kiesa Kay


Why are you a Down Home Fellow? What brought you into our work?

I live in a small, rural community, the 12th smallest of the 100 counties in NC, and people here are divided deeply along political lines. It’s my really strong goal to be able to bridge that chasm by listening to everybody, and learning the skills I need for contemporary outreach from Down Home.

I am a lifelong activist for ending violence, (former house manager for a domestic violence shelter, Women Take Back the Night speaker, radical feminist activist, educational advocate for my special needs/2E children (grown ups now), child forensic interviewer, writer, poet, etc.)  — and I’ve seen a lot of people in pain, rising up, growing strong. It isn’t enough. The system’s broken. 

I want to figure out how to make my life a beacon of hope, and transform my personal struggle into a pathway for future generations. I really pray that Down Home will help me learn how. I also was inspired to get off my duff again after one of my children shared experiences as an activist. 

People have different reasons for voting. Why do you go to the polls and vote?

My Great-Grandma Stella fought for women’s right to vote. She was a midwife, factory worker, union organizer — and the first time she went to the polls, a man shouted at her for not standing in the right place in line. Voting represents having a voice. I vote because I think it might help, being a drop of water in the great big ocean, and as my hero the brilliant Queen Quet, chieftess of the Geechee Gullah people, has said,  maybe that drop of water will add to others and turn the tide.