CINCINNATI — It has been a big year for the Hayes family.
Father Jonathan Hayes got his first head coaching/general manager jobs with the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks. Eldest son Jaxson Hayes wrapped up his rookie season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Daughter Jillian Hayes graduated from Loveland High School and is now a freshman basketball player at the University of Cincinnati.
But their athletic feats take a backseat to several important anniversaries for the biracial family. It’s the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Fifty years before that, Black men were granted suffrage.
It’s also Kristi and Jonathan’s two eldest children’s first time voting.
“I never really thought it was a big deal until everything that went down this year,” Jaxson said. “Felt it was important to vote and spread the word about voting.”
Jaxson held Zoom calls with Grambling University students to encourage them to register to vote. He also helped set up his home arena in New Orleans – the Smoothie King Center – to be a polling place.
The NCAA suspended all activities on Nov. 3 to allow all collegiate athletes a chance to vote. The entire UC women’s basketball team registered to vote.
“It’s our first time to vote, our first to make an impact on the election and what’s going on,” Jillian said.
Though it is Jaxson and Jillian's first time as voters, it's not their first time understanding the importance of the act. Their parents instilled the value of voting in both.
“I remember watching my parents and grandparents going to vote, lives that were lost so that people of color could go and vote,” Jonathan said. “In our household it was always taken very seriously. I'm very proud of my children that they go and they have a voice.”
“A lot of people have fought very hard for us to have the right to vote,” Kristi added. “It's very important for the next generation and the next generation to understand the importance of their voice.”
It’s one voting block that will never be broken.