Tina Knowles Stresses the Importance of Voting During This 'Crucial Time' (Exclusive)
By Rachel McRady
Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Tina Knowles-Lawson knows how to steer people in the right direction. The activist, fashion designer and mother to Beyoncé and Solange Knowles understands the importance of getting out and voting.
BET, in partnership with the National Urban League, has declared Friday to be National Black Voter Day, and Knowles spoke with ET's Kevin Frazier about why this upcoming election is vital.
"We are trying to encourage everybody across the nation to really take responsibility. Everyone should go out and vote, especially this year," Knowles, 66, said. "The world has been a mess and we want change and in order to get to do change, we have to do our part. If you don't make a plan to vote, I don't want to hear you say nothing about you don't have a voice because it is your responsibility to get out and vote."
Mama Tina also expressed how important it is to make sure your vote counts this year.
"It is the most crucial time, it really is, because there is a lot of voter suppression. There is a lot of tricks that are going on," she said.
Knowles urged eligible voters to make a plan, look into absentee ballots where applicable and to be willing to wait in line for hours, the way many people across the country did for the primary elections. She noted that the sense of duty to vote was instilled in her from an early age.
"In my house it was never any question," she said of her childhood. "When I was growing up, my parents constantly said to me, 'Do you know that people died for you to vote? So at 18 you will be getting your butt out and voting.' I told my kids the same thing, for many reasons, but that is the main reason."
The activist stressed the importance not just of the presidential election but also of the local elections.
"[It] is so important that you get the background information on the people, especially at the local level," she said. "[That] you know the history but when it comes to the people in your community who govern how the rules and laws that you have to live by, they are right in your community and there is something about people pulling that lever or sending in that vote that you understand once you do it. You have that little sticker and you have so much pride because you know you really had a part in that person who is making the laws at your state at the local level. It really feels good to do your part."
Knowles, who hosts the Instagram Live show Talks With Mama Tina, also thinks it's important for celebrities and those with a platform to use their voices to encourage others to vote, despite the criticism they might receive.
"I think we have a responsibility when you are blessed enough to have all of these followers on your Instagram and people that influence to guide them. You don't have to tell them who to vote for but it's your responsibility to spread the word and to get everybody out to do their civic duty," she added. "Some people really listen to the voices of celebrities. ...Forget about those naysayers that are telling you not to do your job because they're typically the ones that aren't doing a darn thing."
In addition to encouraging others to vote this election cycle, Knowles is also preparing for the virtual version of her annual Wearable Art Gala to benefit WACO Theater.
"A lot of people have not had the pleasure of coming to the gala and they would love to see what goes on," she said of this year's Ghana-themed event. "And we got everything from behind-the-scenes interviews with my family and all of the beautiful fashions and highlights."
Of course, there will be some of her signature "corny jokes," told by A-list guests, including Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Kerry Washington, Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Meghan Thee Stallion, Issa Rae and Lena Waithe.
The Wearable Art Gala takes place Saturday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET, and can be viewed on the WACO Theater Facebook and YouTube channel.