The Divine Nine Models For Civic Engagement – A GDN Exclusive “A Call to Colors” Vol. II, Part XIXby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer August 14, 2019
When he was Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Grand Basileus, Dr. Antonio Knox traveled the nation, espousing “We Are One,” and that the fraternities and sororities of the Divine Nine “…have so much more impact when we work together as one.”
Knox, who served for four years as the fortieth Grand Basileus, shared that vision during the panel discussion on August 3rd at the Fifth Annual Alumni Leaders Conference Civic Engagement and Advocacy Committee (CEAC) Summit of the National HBCU Alumni Associations Foundation and the National NCCU Alumni Association at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law.
“[Omegas] recognize the opportunity that [GDN publisher] Peter Grear brings to the table of coming together [under the banner of “A Call to Colors’ HBCU and primarily white institution (pwi) student civic engagement through voter registration, education and mobilization (VREM).” Knox continued that he is “encouraging” the current Grand Basileus – Dr. David Marion -“… to combine our program with [A Call to Colors], because in order to have the organizational structure and for everybody working together, there needs to be a common ground.”
Dr. Knox said the Omega VREM program was “very similar” to [A Call to Colors]. “We challenged all 754 chapters to be involved in our program, and we focused on voter registration, education and mobilization.”
“Using our resources to come together, and reach more people,” he said.
Knox also made note of the annual May Divine Nine Legislative Day at the NC General Assembly as an example of D9 groups “working together” when it came to educating and mobilizing the community towards important issues. He added that White House correspondent April Ryan said afterwards that it was one of the greatest events she’d ever seen, and that all battleground states should sponsor Divine Nine Legislative Day.
“All of the Divine Nine coming together, and partnering with the NAACP, had a far greater reach than just the 1100 people we took down to the legislature,” Knox told summit attendees.
“It must be the Divine Nine, 100 Black Men, the Urban League, the NAACP, the HBCUs…. everybody coming together as one, because it is a critical time!”
“We think what Peter has…” A Call to Colors” come up with a plan…. we want to make sure that we get [people] to commit the hours, and then record them, because that will give a sense of accountability.”
It is important to note the Alpha Phi Alpha, through its National President, Dr. Everett Ward has long supported “A Call to Colors” and has endorsed its voter mobilization model. Additionally, Alphas coordinated the last Divine Nine Legislative Day and are expected to do so again for 2020.
Selene’ Hudson Brent, North Carolina state coordinator of the South Atlantic Region of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., another Divine Nine member, agrees with Knox that working together is key to effectively engaging HBCU and primarily white institution (pwi) students in nonpartisan VREM for the 2020 elections.
Appearing on a second panel during the Fifth Annual Alumni Leaders Conference CEAC Summit, she said that the conference, itself, was an example of members of various Divine Nine sororities and fraternities “taking the information” about “A Call to Colors” VREM efforts back to their respective groups for the purpose of working together.
“We encourage you to be civic-minded and be active in the community before you even join any of our [D9] organizations,’ “Brent said, she went on to explain that most D9 members began their careers at the HBCU level.
“So, we’re starting very early to try and fill that pipeline to get people thinking about giving back to the community, taking on those issues, and being leaders of those student organizations,” Brent said.
Concurring with Omega’s, Dr. Knox about the value of the Divine Nine Legislative Day at the NC General Assembly, Ms. Brent stressed the importance of D9 groups being active in their local communities when it comes to issues of concern and being able to engage in VREM there accordingly.
“We have to start local,” she said. “We have to be a voice at the local councils, the commissioners’ [meetings]…start at that grassroots level. It’s got to be where we live, is where we have to start.”
ORGANIZING YOUR VOTER MOBILIZATION MODEL
1. Create a standing voter participation committee in your organization;
2. Ask each organizational member to volunteer 8, 16, 24 hours or more per election cycle;
3. Volunteer through the NAACP or other nonpartisan organization;
4. Have a member assigned to NAACP meetings to help keep your organization abreast of its
civic engagement activities;
5. Keep records of your volunteer hours.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with request that Greater Diversity write an article about your efforts. Enter “Article” in the subject line.
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