NCCU Alumni Summit Focuses on “A Call to Colors” – GDN Exclusive “A Call to Colors” Vol. II, Part XVIby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer July 8, 2019
When the National Historically Black College and Alumni Association’s Fifth Annual Alumni Leaders Conference convenes Saturday, August 3rd at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law, its theme will be “Strategically Sustain the Future of HBCUs through Alumni Advocacy.”
But featured on the conference agenda will be a commitment by NCCU Alumni chapters to “A Call to Colors,” the nonpartisan student civic engagement campaign, sponsored by GDN, which targets students attending HBCU campuses across North Carolina with voter registration, education and mobilization activities.
Co-hosted by NCCU and NCCU Alumni Association, Inc. (NCCUAA), and sponsored by the National Historically Black College and Universities Alumni Association Foundation (NHBCUAAF), the conference will roll out “A Call to Colors” to the various North Carolina alumni chapters represented. It is recommended that each establish “Civic Engagement & Advocacy Committees” or CEACs, to promote Alumni engagement.
“The proactive participation of alumni chapters in nonpartisan activities is designed to educate, organize, mobilize and empower members to use their voices and presence to engage with elected officials at [all] levels] in a strategic and unified manner that demands accountability and support…” and “…student engagement with proactive participation of alumni chapters in advocacy activities designed to provide plans and strategies for the nonpartisan civic engagement of students in the democratic process that maximizes their effectiveness and efficiency,” according to the NCCUAA.
“We see “A Call to Colors” as an initiative that we’re rallying around,” Richard D. Smith, vice president of NHBCUAAF,” told GDN.
“What we’ve done, based on what we’ve learned from [“A Call to Colors” and GDN founder Peter Grear] is establish a civic engagement and advocacy committee (CEAC) at two different levels – one, through the National HBCU Alumni Foundation, promoting this to all of our HBCU alumni associations at the national level, saying that you should certainly establish this in your alumni association, and push it down to the ground level wherever you are,” Smith continued.
“And so we’ve started the NCCU Alumni Association as the first one to take it on full force, and incorporate it in their national structure, and pushing it to their chapter level in the state of North Carolina – the first focal point, ground zero for us.”
Thus, Smith added, the August 3rd conference is an opportunity for an expected 30-50 representatives of the state’s seventeen NCCU Alumni chapters to come together and talk about what is happening across North Carolina politically, economically and socially, and what can be addressed from the civic engagement perspective.
Approximately 24,000 – 25,000 alums comprise membership of North Carolina’s NCCU Alumni associations, Smith, a former NCCU National Alumni Association president, added.
“The whole concept of having a civic engagement and advocacy committee within the alumni association is new, “says Angela Thomas-Lewis, chair of NCCU-CEAC along with Richard D. Smith,” …so we’re birthing a new initiative. “Strategically [in terms of issues], we’re starting out with just that North Carolina focus.”
Ms. Thomas-Lewis continued that in preparation for the August 3rd conference, organizers are already getting information from attending North Carolina NCCU Alumni chapters about important issues in their respective communities that will be discussed.
“We’ll have panelists discussions on the top issues, and because this hasn’t been done before, we are developing a model that can be replicated throughout the HBCUs,” she continued.
Each NCCU Alumni chapter already has monthly meetings, and now, with the CEAC component, accountability will be data-driven regarding what areas are being addressed, and levels of civic engagement are being implemented.
Richard D. Smith is also encouraged by forging a new, cooperative relationship with the Black church, in this case St. Joseph’s A.M.E. Church in Durham, and its new pastor, Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine. Smith says the Black church, historically, has always been a part of the social justice and civil engagement movement within the African American community.
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