“Hope is on the ballot, and fear is on the ballot, too,” said President Obama in his address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation at its annual dinner last month. That speech, an impassioned plea to vote for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election this November, plays in a new video by artist Carrie Mae Weems. Called “The Power of Your Vote,” it was shot on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens, one of New York City’s most diverse neighborhoods.
According to Hillary Clinton’s website, “Weems had been preparing her own script for the piece, but when she heard Obama’s recent address to the Congressional Black Caucus, she thought there was no better message.” Obama’s speech continued:
All the progress we’ve made is at stake in this election. My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration — that’s on the ballot right now!
And there is one candidate who will advance those things. And there’s another candidate whose defining principle, the central theme of his candidacy is opposition to all that we’ve done.
There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter. It all matters. And after we have achieved historic turnout in 2008 and 2012, especially in the African-American community, I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote.
Featuring women in headscarves walking next to men in baseball caps, the video, edited by Yao Xu, powerfully illustrates the basic tolerance that’s at stake in this election. Weems, who has spent her four-decade career working with photography, video, text, and installation, won the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.