David Ledbetter saw all the chicken talk online and thought it was time to actually do something.
The 17-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, decided to help people register to vote as they waited in long lines for the now-infamous chicken sandwich at Popeyes.
In an interview with Because of Them We Can, the high school senior said he was surprised to find out that most people in line had already registered to vote. However, for the 16 people who had not previously registered, he helped them fill out the paperwork.
“I once attended a caucus meeting in Charlotte and I noticed the lack of young people present. I wanted to start an initiative to allow more youth to become politically involved so I thought registering people to vote and handing out information on voting would be the best way to engage,” he told Because of Them We Can.
“All week I’ve been seeing people waiting in line for the Popeyes chicken sandwich. So we thought that we should register people to vote while they waited,” the teen added.
Twitter has been inundated with think pieces criticizing or defending the social media-fueled craze around the sandwiches. Grammy winner Janelle Monáe was forced to apologize on Monday after tweeting Black people should focus on voting as much as the chicken sandwich craze.
I think the tweets that I posted about registering and voting were insensitive and wrong—specifically they ignored the very real issues of voter suppression that have impacted my community for years and me directly.
— Janelle Monáe, Cindi (@JanelleMonae) August 26, 2019
This was a common sentiment among many but was repeatedly shown to be plainly false at best and unnecessarily racist at worst.
Let. Black. Folk. Eat. Chicken. Sandwiches. In. Peace. Without. Needing. To. Vote. Or. Stand. In. Line. For. Unemployment. Challenge.
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) August 26, 2019
Thread. Popeye's would kill for lines like the ones outside of black polling stations. 1. Black people vote 2. We would vote even more if people like the GA Gov didn't intentionally limit poll access in ways that create these ridiculous lines. https://t.co/gdgjEn3sRw
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 26, 2019
Black voters propelled huge Democratic party gains in November's election, and Black women particularly have consistently high voting numbers.