The NC NAACP Model – A GDN Exclusive “A Call to Colors” Vol. II, Part XVIIIby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer August 12, 2019
Joe Alston, the executive director of the North Carolina NAACP since last December, is absolutely onboard with building a stronger HBCU (historically black college and university) and predominantly white institutions’ student voting base going into 2020, and beyond.
And like his President, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Alston believes the obvious – “a voteless people, is a voiceless people.”
Alston says what Publisher Peter Grear and Greater Diversity News (GDN) are trying to accomplish with “A Call to Colors” is very similar to the mission of the NC NAACP. The hereinafter discussed August 3rd “A Call to Colors” Summit received high marks on its presentations.
“Which is pool all of our resources, and [address] voter registration as a joint effort, as opposed to all of the fragmented pieces that are out there,” he told GDN.
Grear calls the NC NAACP “…our strategic leader.”
After taking part in the Saturday, August 3rd National HBCU Alumni Association Foundation Fifth Annual Alumni Leaders Conference and the NCCU Alumni Association Civic Engagement and Advocacy Committee (CEAC) Summit at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law, Alston, who appeared on both panels presenting community-based organizational models in voter registration efforts, says he got the impression from those in attendance that “…many of them were looking for an entity to really take the lead, and be able to push this movement forward on a larger scale than what they were doing individually, and [the NC NAACP has] the ability to do that.” The NCCU Alumni Association is the first HBCU to create a complete voter mobilization model and are aggressively doing outreach to other HBCUs.
And that’s why having local NC NAACP chapters working with local HBCU alumni association and Divine Nine chapters, as well as the Masons and other responsible community organizations that take the mission of student civic engagement through voter registration, education and mobilization (VREM) seriously, is so important, Alston says.
One of the byproducts of those partnerships with the NC NAACP is building those important relationships and validating the oldest civil rights organization’s continued work in the world today.
|ORGANIZING YOUR VOTER MOBILIZATION MODEL
Alston, a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and former Chair of the Guilford County Democratic Party, says he’s particularly pleased to hear that the SGAs (Student Government Associations) on many North Carolina HBCU campuses have been active and engaged in student civic activities like VREM, because that’s an area where the NC NAACP is anxious to build an even stronger relationship with them.
“We’re getting old, and we need to be able to pass this baton on to some younger folks,” he said, adding that the NAACP needs to step in and start grooming more young people to get involved.
Our first step or introduction will be through our voter registration effort,” Alston says.
Per a series of GDN interviews with SGA presidents earlier this year, Alston would be pleased to know that many already do take VREM very seriously (especially going into the 2020 elections), and expressed strong respect for on-campus NAACP chapters – of which many have been or currently, are members.
Alston, however, says college NAACP branches “…aren’t as strong as we need them to be.” He says ultimately connecting college NAACP chapters with HBCU SGAs, Divine Nine and alumni chapters should be the goal.
“It would really be powerful, if we can pull all of that together, which I have no doubt that we can,” he says, adding that President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is “fully onboard” with working with all partners across the state.
Alston, who stresses the importance of a uniformed effort and stringent data collection, says the NC NAACP has 94 chapters, 16 districts and four regions across North Carolina, and is working with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. currently, to have respective chapters and branches link up.
“The idea is to introduce those leaders of those Omega chapters with our NAACP branch leaders,” Alston says.
In preparation for 2020, the NC NAACP is already starting pilot nonpartisans voter registration efforts and training in three counties – Forsyth, Guilford and Alamance – this year, where upwards of 250, at minimum, prospective voters are being targeted.
Alston says upwards of 1,000 will be collected by the deadline of Oct. 11th.
The trainees will be shown the proper and legal procedures for voter registration that will be in force in 2020 when at least 10,000 prospective voters will hopefully be registered.
“There are 480,000 unregistered people of color in North Carolina,” Alston continued, who added that he has a county-by-county breakdown. So, it will take a coordinated effort by all committed groups, with the NC NAACP in the lead, to have as many of them registered by the 2020 elections as possible.
“In March of next year, we can go full-out strong for five months,” he adds, noting that beyond voter registration, allowing local groups to provide the voter education, and then finally, marshal the GOTV (get-out-the-vote) efforts to the polls.
“This year is the year to test whatever strategy we’re going to use.”
Alston is also in favor of having members of Divine Nine chapters to join local NAACP chapters so that there are direct links in coordinating VREM efforts.
“That’s what needs to happen for folks to understand that we are still strong,” NC NAACP Executive Director Joe Alston said,” … and we’re still out here working!”
Referring to the civic engagement partnerships, Alston said, “I look forward to what we can accomplish in 2020.”
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