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Standing on the sidelines during an election is never an option. That's why superstar musicians rarely hesitate when asked to step up to the mic to use their outsized influence to encourage all of us to speak out for the future that we want for our families, our communities and ourselves.
And who better to get us excited about voting?
After all, we tend to form strange, special relationships with our favorite performers. We invite them into our lives and ask them to provide the soundtrack. (Or is it the other way around?) Over the course of a few albums, something strikingly personal develops—through confessional, relatable lyrics you discover a kindred spirit or maybe a new best friend who understands the cathartic necessity of losing yourself and your worries to the pulse of the dance floor.
A very real connection is born, one that runs far deeper than with any other sort of celebrity. So it's no wonder we trust them when they offer up a very simple message: Your vote is your voice.
Since 1990, Rock the Vote has been working hard to draw attention to elections and turn out millions of voters. The campaign has always made great use of celebrity supporters—and pop stars in particular. When a cultural icon starts talking about the importance of voting, their millions of fans tend to pay attention.
From touring to ads and more, superstar singers have always played a pivotal role in the Rock the Vote campaign. Here are five of our favorites who have both lent their famous faces to the cause of inspiring millions to take action by voting and supported the green movement for a more sustainable future for all of us.
Rock the Vote launched itself into the public consciousness in a very big way in 1990 with a controversial PSA featuring the Queen of Pop at the peak of her powers. Draped in an American flag, clad in lingerie and mouthing off in typical fashion, the pop star did what she does best: got plenty of attention.
In the years since, she's used her fame to bring awareness to a variety of causes, from world hunger at Live 8 to environmental awareness as the headliner at Live Earth, the global concert event held in 2007 and founded in partnership with The Climate Reality Project Founder and Chairman Al Gore. Her Madgesty has even appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair's annual Green Issue.
2. Pharrell Williams
Pharrell has a long history of asking his fans to Rock the Vote, going so far as to call voting "the only way to change things." He is also no stranger to green initiatives and even partnered with Climate Reality for 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World Is Watching to spread the word about climate solutions ahead of the historic UN climate negotiations in Paris.
"I'm hopeful for our future and proud of our world leaders for taking first steps toward working together for a healthier, happier planet," he said on Facebook of the Paris agreement.
3. Katy Perry
Perry's interest in the well-being of our planet stems from her role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. The chart-topping pop princess has traveled the globe to speak with children and promote public health services in the developing world. This naturally extends to issues like drought, flooding, global temperature rise and the related spread of vector-borne diseases, which inspired Perry to star in a characteristically tongue-in-cheek clip, produced by UNICEF and styled as a local news-like weather report, about the dangers of extreme weather for the world's children.
Perry recently shot a Rock the Vote campaign commercial, telling The Los Angeles Times, "Younger people sometimes don't feel like their vote matters. They think it's all rigged, but it's not true—you have to physically go out and vote."
4. John Legend
Legend has been extremely vocal on Twitter with his feelings about environmental issues. And like Pharrell, Legend's commitment to the cause also is far from new—he performed during The Climate Rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC all the way back in April 2010 in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
The "All of Me" singer and 10-time Grammy winner has been involved with Rock the Vote for years, as well and was the face of the organization's Democracy Day initiative to educate young people about the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age in the U.S. from 21 to 18 in 1971.
5. Jason Mraz
Mraz went on tour with Rock the Vote in 2013 to get thousands of people registered ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.
"Now that I have an opportunity to work with Rock the Vote, it's just a must," he said. "A lot of people don't know that they have to register; they think 'I'm always registered.' … Every single vote counts."
The "I Won't Give Up" crooner also is a well-known environmentalist. Part of the vision of his Jason Mraz Foundation is to "achieve a society … where the environment is preserved for generations to come." (Sounds familiar to us!) He's also been very active in Climate Reality's annual 24 Hours of Reality live global event over the years, discussing topics from what he is doing to be a better activist to why he is optimistic about the future of our planet.
Are our celebrity friends correct that voting is key to doing your part to assure a sustainable future? One thing is certain: expanding clean energy and creating more green jobs are goals Americans agree on—and we need our leaders to support.
Every U.S. election is important, but this year we have the power to shape not only the future of America, but the future of our entire planet and its citizens. In fewer than five minutes, you can register or pledge to #RockTheVote and proudly raise your voice on Election Day.
A number of Hollywood stars have joined a growing national movement opposing the construction of the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline.
On Tuesday, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller—stars of the upcoming superhero movie Justice League—filmed an endorsement for Rezpect Our Water, a campaign launched by young members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
"As a gang of Earth defenders, we want to send a big shoutout to the Oceti Sakowin and those who stand with them in opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline," Miller says in the video. Oceti Sakowin is the proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux.
"Join us in supporting the youth of Standing Rock as they fight the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will leak into their drinking water!" Momoa wrote on his Instagram, adding that "Aquaman is pissed."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved construction of a 1,170-mile, $3.7 billion pipeline that would transfer up to 570,00 barrels of crude oil per day from the North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. The pipeline would cross the Missouri River, a mile north of the Standing Rock Reservation. A potential oil spill could destroy sacred land or pollute the tribe's main source of drinking water as well as more than 200 smaller rivers and creeks.
Protests came to an intense boil over the weekend, but the battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project of Texas company Energy Transfer Partners, has been simmering since this spring.
Since then, many other environmentally-minded celebrities have joined the chorus. On Aug. 25, actors Shailene Woodley, Riley Keough and Susan Sarandon joined tribe members at a courthouse in Washington, DC to protest the pipeline's construction.
"I'm here as a mother and a grandmother to thank the people of the Standing Rock community for bringing our attention to this horrible thing that is happening to their land, which in turn will endanger all of us ... because all of our waters are connected," Sarandon said.
On Facebook, musician Pharrell Williams praised an extraordinary 2,200-mile relay accomplished by young tribe members protesting the pipeline.
"We have so much we can learn from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Native American tribes," he said. "The children of Standing Rock ran 2,200 miles on foot to Washington, D.C. to save their sacred land from the oil industry. Let's help protect them so they can continue to live in peace #rezpectourwater."
Pharrell Williams Facebook
Actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo has also been a prominent voice against construction of the pipeline. He appealed to President Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to respond to the project.
Native Americans around the country have been galvanized by the plight of the Standing Rock Sioux against Big Oil.
As The Washington Post reports:
"Over the past few weeks, thousands of Native Americans representing tribes from all over the country have traveled to this central North Dakota reservation to camp in a nearby meadow and show solidarity with a tribe they think is once again receiving a raw deal at the hands of commercial interests and the U.S. government."
"More than 200 Native American tribes have declared their support, and many have sent food and supplies," the Post wrote.
Environmental advocates such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance and 93 Waterkeeper organizations are standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux.
Politicians have also joined the fray. Morton County officials issued a warrant for Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein on Wednesday after video surfaced of her spray-painting a bulldozer at a construction site.
Meanwhile, President Obama has not specifically addressed the pipeline but during a news conference in Laos, he briefly spoke about Native American land rights.
"As many of you know, the way that Native Americans were treated was tragic," he said. "One of the priorities that I've had as President is restoring an honest and generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes. And this issue of ancestral lands and helping them preserve their way of life is something that we have worked very hard on."
A federal judge will rule Friday on the legality of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Stay tuned.