Part One: The Pitt County Model “A Call to Colors” – GDN Exclusive Part XXIIby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer October 19, 2018
With One Stop early voting/same-day registration underway this week October 17th – Saturday, November 3rd in North Carolina, the National Alumni Presidents of several historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the state are contacting their local alumni chapters, urging them to join with local NAACP chapters in a major voter mobilization effort for the all-important November 6th midterm elections, as part of “A Call to Colors” campaign.
“I recently endorsed “A Call to Colors” Campaign…,” Ayoka Gay, Shaw University’s National Alumni President, wrote to all Shaw local Alumni Chapter Presidents by email Friday, October 12th. “… [A]n initiative sponsored by Greater Diversity News (GDN), with the goal of achieving 100% voter registration by engaging college campus student organizations and historically Black Greek letter organizations. The campaign also includes the NC NAACP and black leadership from around the state of North Carolina. University and Alumni Association Presidents have also endorsed this effort and are mobilizing students and alumni to register and vote in the upcoming election.”
Ms. Gay, a 2002 Shaw graduate, continued, “Our Pitt County Alumni Chapter, led by President Mildred Council ’71, hosted “A Call to Colors” Organizing Campaign this week and has plans to join in with local NAACP efforts as well. The event had over 20 representatives from the HBCU Coalition of Pitt County in addition to WSSU, ECSU, NCCU, FSU, and Shaw University Alumni. Shaw University student leaders organized a voter registration drive on campus and have held several “Marches to the Polls” events for recent elections.”
Picking up on “A Call to Colors” mantra, as laid out by Greater Diversity News Publisher, Peter Grear, Ms. Gay instructed Shaw Alumni Chapter Presidents to individually, or as a chapter, pledge 8, 16, 24 hours or more to voter mobilization between now and November Elections; contact local NAACP leaders for guidance in tasks where volunteers are needed; and contact local voter registration organizations to inquire about opportunities to volunteer.
An email from Pitt County Shaw Alumni Chapter President, Mildred Council, to members of the HBCU Coalition, also endorsed “A Call to Colors” Campaign, ” … we are ready and willing to support the NAACP and other organizations to Get Out The VOTE. We will be rallying amongst our networks as well as on our College Campuses. It takes Great Team Work and many Voices.”
“Please spread the word. FIRED UP AND READY TO GET VOTERS OUT.”
In his email to HBCU National Alumni Association Presidents and Divine Nine Organizations, Publisher Peter Grear indicated that HBCU campus student government associations should also be engaged, along with Greek letter organizations.
Gwendolyn Rice, National Alumnae Association President for Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, sent a similar request that her school’s local Alumni Chapter Presidents to engage with “A Call to Colors” voter mobilization strategy.
She also indicated that Bennett has activated it’s classic “Operation Doorknock” GOTV (get out the vote) student campaign, patterned after the original 1960’s campaign.
Richard Smith, President of NHBCUAA; Dr. E. Lavonia Allison, former Chair of the North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus, both pushed for HBCU’s to adopt their own “Operation Doorknock” campaigns, where students canvass the black community, urging voters to cast their ballots for the November 6th elections.
Keith W. Cooper, President of the Eastern NC Regional Association of Black Social Workers, also sent out an urgent October 12th “A Call to Colors” email, saying, “I support the noble efforts of HBCUs (and their national leadership) to mobilize and galvanize alumni and students to volunteer some time with the NAACP to promote a GOTV campaign.”
“Too many people, especially African-Americans, don’t vote or feel their votes don’t count,” Cooper continued. “Let’s not be bamboozled by skeptics who seemingly undermine suffrage with irrational excuses and reasons not to vote.”
It is past time for our many local, state and national black leaders and leadership organizations to join “A Call to Colors” and ask their member to volunteer 8, 16, 24 hours or more to GOTV through their local NAACP branches.
A critical debrief of “A Call to Colors” efforts will be conducted immediately after our November 6th Election in preparation of our voter engagement efforts going forward.
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