GDN Exclusive: President of College Democrats of North Carolina Supports “Call To Colors” Part VIIby Cash Michaels, contributing writer May 16, 2018
For over 80 years, the College Democrats organization has been the official student arm of the NC Democratic Party, covering 24 North Carolina colleges and universities. Many of its members have gone on to serve in elected office, like current NCDP Chairman Wayne Goodwin.
Indeed, the organization’s main goal has been to foster and develop the next generation of leadership through advocacy and outreach.
John C. Easterling III, president of the College Democrats of North Carolina and rising senior at UNC Greensboro, knows that building the intensity to electorally engage college students, especially at historically black colleges and universities, is essential ahead of the 2018 mid-term election coming this fall. That’s why Easterling, 21, endorses the “Call to Colors” campaign to register students on every HBCU campus across the state in time to vote in the mid-terms.
“We’ve had a vested interest of the past few years in turning out the vote on college campuses, so we’ve begun a process of organizing all of those precincts on the college campuses where we have a presence, and we’ve also developed an intense outreach program to make sure that HBCUs play an important role in our organization.”
“[HBCUs] have been underdeveloped and underrepresented for so many years, not just in the organization, but in the Democratic Party as a whole,” Easterling added.
The Laurinburg native is just starting his second one-year term as CDNC president. He started his political career in 2011 when he met and worked for former Eighth Congressional District Congressman Larry Kissell as a member of his Youth Legislative Council.
In 2012, Easterling worked in Kissell’s reelection campaign, later being elected president of the North Carolina Association of Teen Democrats in 2013 and going on to take on other important youth leadership roles until now.
Today, empowering college students to register to vote, and ultimately make informed candidate and issue choices at the polls, is a key objective.
“Civic engagement is the responsibility of every American citizen,” Easterling said regarding working with nonpartisan groups like the NC NAACP, Divine Nine and others regarding voter registration on college campuses.
“It is important, especially in these perilous times, that every individual knows that they have a voice….an equal voice to be part of this democracy.”
And with HBCUs being historically underfunded, that, in and of itself, should be motivation for students there to become politically engaged, Easterling continued. “And that’s important to us at the end of the day.”
“[The College Democrats of North Carolina] will be a proactive partner in this process,” Easterling assured, regarding promoting the “Call to Colors” campaign.
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.
John C. Easterling III 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; and N. Carnell Robinson, past chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus; Andrea Harris, Senior Fellow of the Durham-based Self-Help Credit Union; 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, and the Prince Hall Masons and the Eastern Star, among others, to support the effort.
And as a prime source of organizing information, supporters involved are encouraged to subscribe to eNews below to receive free weekly Call to Colors/Civic Engagement Project updates.
Subscribe and Share Civic Engagement Project Updates
Each week we will profile a major figure or organization related to civic engagement, Citizens United, gerrymandering, redistricting, election calendars, candidates, political parties, pressure groups and many more topics relevant to people interested in being more informed. All Civic Engagement Project newsletter editions will be permanently archived on our website. Subscribe to get weekly updates, headlines and event notifications.