Chair of HBCU Alumni Leadership Roundtable Endorses “Call to Colors” Part VIby Cash Michaels, contributing writer GDN April 18, 2018
A GDN Exclusive
Andrea Harris, Senior Fellow with the Durham-based Self-Help Credit Union, Chair of the HBCU Alumni Leadership Roundtable, and former president of the NC Minority Institute for Economic Development, has now joined the many leaders and organizations statewide in supporting “Call to Colors” – a nonpartisan civic engagement action plan to implement 100% voter registration on all historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across North Carolina.
“This is not something that we should take lightly,” Harris said in a phone interview last week. “It’s very serious. … Somehow, we have to help our students connect through the value of public policy and that politics controls who gets what, when and how much.”
Harris reminds all of us that students were also targets of recent financial scandals involving corrupt banking practices. It is public policy that hurts improvements to student loans and investment by the federal government supporting HBCU’s, compared to majority white colleges and universities.
The focus of “Call to Colors”
The focus of “Call to Colors” is to achieve 100% voter registration by engaging college campus student organizations and the “Divine 9” – nine historically Black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council. The campaign will also include the NC NAACP and black leadership from around the state.
“It’s so important – this combination creates a massive dynamic,” says Peter Grear, publisher of Greater Diversity News and GreaterDiversity.com, who encourages all to subscribe to GDN’s weekly Civic Engagement Project eNews for free at GreaterDiversity.com . “The potential includes twice yearly ‘Call to Colors’ civic engagement rallies all over North Carolina in local communities, on HBCU campuses, at non-traditional campuses, and in many different iterations.”
Grear continued, “With the NAACP’s participation, the HBCU/Divine 9, etc., coalitions could be recreated virtually everywhere. Experienced leaders would define the civic engagement concept for undergraduates and guide its implementation. Mobilizing our students in cyberspace creates untold leverage in civic engagement and community organizing.”
Harris, a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. agrees, and also praises Grear for his years of commitment to political and economic empowerment.
“Peter Grear really does see, and has always seen, the value of communication for the black community. So, the fact that Greater Diversity News has taken on the leadership with this whole ‘Call to Colors’ initiative, is to be saluted and celebrated,” Harris said, “But we need to join it, because we’ve got to find a way to create some energy for our people. We have to communicate the ‘why’ of voting.”
GDN’s strategy for “A Call to Colors”
GDN’s strategy for “A Call to Colors” response is quite simple and powerful. Ask all alumni associations, at all levels, to create standing committees for non-partisan civic engagement. They would ask their members to volunteer 8, 16, 24 hours or more per election cycle, to help mobilize Black voter participation. Volunteer activities could include making telephone calls, Facebook posting, door knocking, organizing their churches or other community-based organizations, Greek organizations, working polls, supporting the NAACP and more.
GDN recommends that Alumni Association urge all HBCU Student Government Associations (SGAs) to make similar civic engagement pledges. SGAs should have twice a year student rallies promoting civic engagement and student organizations. “A Call to Colors” is a suggestion that appeals to student and HBCU Alumni members sense of community responsibility.
Andrea Harris joins Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1); Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12); NC Sec. of Veteran Affairs Larry Hall; Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, pres. of the NCNAACP; newly appointed State Senator Milton “Toby” Fitch, who is also “Most Worshipful Grand Master State of NC and Jurisdiction of the Prince Hall Mason Lodge; Dr. Lavonia Allison, former chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People; Charles Warren, chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus; N. Carnell Robinson, past chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus; and Robert Stephens, founder of the HBCU Collective, in endorsing the “Call to Colors” civic engagement campaign.
The “Call to Colors” campaign is working to formally engage with the Pan-Hellenic Councils, the NC NAACP, the NC Black Leadership Caucus, the Prince Hall Masons and the Eastern Star, among others, to support the effort.