Photo by Kassandra Alvarez Bethlehem Makonnen outside of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo by Kassandra Alvarez

Bethlehem Makonnen is an organizer who says she is using her voting power to have a say in who takes positions of power representing the community she stands for.

“I’m speaking for Black people, I’m speaking for immigrants, for minorities, gay marginalized groups of people,” Bethlehem said. “My vote represents people who otherwise don’t have a say.”

As an organizer with Our Voice, Our Vote, an immigrant from Ethiopia, and a Black woman, Bethlehem shares her understanding and the discouragement with candidates on the ballot but is hopeful the country can step into a better direction.

In this election, issues important to her are healthcare and racial justice. “Health care is not a privilege; it’s a right,” she said, emphasizing these issues impact them directly, sharing: “there is power in voting.”

In her opinion, Invest in Education—Prop. 208—should also pass due to concerns with the school-to-prison-pipeline and schools’ resources for students.

“Minority communities are being robbed from the same opportunities that wealthy white people have,” said Bethlehem. “And we can make a difference.”

“The community has to come together to fight for the future,” she reflected, as she called on people to honor the ancestors who gave them the right to vote.


Continue Reading: Millions of Arizonans are Voting This Election. Here Are Their Stories.