DeRay McKesson has ridden social media influence to the national stage.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Twitter Executive Chairman Omid Kordestani have each donated $6,000 to the Baltimore mayoral campaign of DeRay Mckesson, perhaps the most prominent voice to emerge out of the Black Lives Matter movement. The donations came to light in campaign finance documents which were highlighted by Digital Trends.
Other large contributions came from Stewart Butterfield, founder of Slack, along with smaller donations from celebrities including Rashida Jones and Susan Sarandon. In all, McKesson has raised more than $222,000 from around 5,000 donors nationwide.
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Technology has played a major role in McKesson’s career as an activist. He first rose to prominence in 2014, when he began live-tweeting events in Furgeson, Missouri following the police shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown. He now has more than 323,000 followers on Twitter TWTR .
Aside from execs’ personal politics, tech company support for McKesson makes sense for two reasons. First, he’s a sterling example of the influence of platforms like Twitter, which benefits from serving as the home of any important national conversations. And second, Silicon Valley has a widely-discussed and continuing diversity problem. Support for minority influencers like McKesson could help shore up those shortcomings, at least from a PR perspective.
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However, the Guardian reports that McKesson’s huge digital platform hasn’t translated into traction with the Baltimore electorate—he’s still polling at less than 1% against a slate of more locally established candidates. The Democratic mayoral primary, which traditionally determines the final victor, is on April 26th.