Rep. Adams, HBCU Collective Leader Supports “A Call to Colors” for HBCU Civic Engagement – Part Vby Cash Michaels, contributing writer Greater Diversity News April 6, 2018
A GDN Exclusive
As we get closer to the crucial 2018 fall midterm elections, two new voices join the a “A Call to Colors” civic engagement effort to register 100 percent of the students on historically black college and university campuses throughout the state – Congresswoman Alma Adams, and Robert Stephens, founder and leader of the HBCU Collective.
“The decisions being made at the local, state, and federal levels impact all young people,” Rep. Adams, the co-chair of the Bi-Partisan HBCU Caucus in Congress, told Greater Diversity News. “It’s crucial that they register to vote because it you aren’t registered, you can’t vote, and if you don’t vote, you can’t be counted.”
“If you’re not counted, you can’t be heard,” Rep. Adams added. “With everything taking place in our nation today, it’s more important than ever to get out and vote.”
Rep. Adams, a two-term congresswoman representing Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding areas, is an alumna of NC A&T University in Greensboro. She also taught art at Bennett College for Women there for 40 years; so supporting HBCUs is part of her pedigree.
Robert Stephens is a 2008 alumnus of Winston-Salem State University, and the founder of the HBCU Collective, which will conduct its Second Annual Day of Action, Tuesday, April 17 at the US Capital in Washington, DC.
The goal is to gain greater support for HBCUs from congressional lawmakers, making sure that black institutions get the same level of support and fiscal resources as do traditional white colleges and universities.
Stephens says he founded the group after Pres. Trump invited presidents and chancellors from HBCUs across the country to discuss how his administration could offer greater support. But when Trump sent his budget to Congress, that support was lacking.
While HBCUs fared better in the recent $1.3 trillion omnibus budget recently signed by the president, Stephens says HBCU students need to be ever vigilant, and must continue to lobby congress to do more, and better.
But Robert Stephens agrees that unless HBCU students learn how to harness their electoral power, they will never be in a position to leverage federal or state lawmakers to do anything for HBCUs. So he’s fully supportive of a “A Call to Colors,” and the goal of 100 percent voter registration on all of North Carolina’s HBCU’s before the fall midterm elections.
“Yes, that is something that we can definitely get behind” Stephens confirmed during a phone interview from Washington, D.C. Even though the Collective will be bringing student and alumni representatives from across North Carolina and the nation to Capital Hill, “…this is just a microcosm of our support-base.”
“So what we’re saying to them is, “We’re watching the votes that you take, …and we will make sure that with the vote that we take in November, we will remember what you did!”
But that promise mean nothing if HBCU students, particularly in North Carolina, are not registered to vote, and don’t know the issues that will affect their futures beyond HBCUs.
Both Rep. Adams and Robert Stephens join Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NCNAACP; Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-12); Dr. Lavonia Allison, former chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People; State Sen. Milton “Toby” Fitch, Most Worshipful Grand Master State of NC and Jurisdiction of the Prince Hall Mason Lodge; Charles Warren, chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus; and N. Carnell Robinson, past chairman of the NC Black Leadership Caucus, in endorsing the action plan.
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.
The “A Call to Colors” campaign is working to formally engage with the Pan-Hellenic Councils, the NCNAACP, the NC Black Leadership Caucus, and the Prince Hall Masons and the Eastern Star, among others, to spearhead drives to get sororities, fraternities and other student organizations on HBCU campuses statewide, fully involved and mobilized for civic engagement, and 100% voter registration.
Greater Diversity News has spoken with black leaders that also endorse subscribing to GreaterDiversity.com’s free weekly Civic Engagement Project eNews edition at www.greaterdiversity.com for frequent updates on the “A Call to Colors” action plan.