SGAs/BSUs Nationwide Encouraged To adopt “Civic Engagement” Campaigns – GDN Exclusive Vol II, Part XIIby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer April 22, 2019
Having verified great interest at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across North Carolina, “A Call to Colors,” the Greater Diversity News’ (GDN) student civic engagement campaign promoting nonpartisan voter registration, education and mobilization, is set to spread nationwide in the coming year leading up to the crucial 2020 elections.
The widespread interest was verified through direct surveys with both Student Government Associations (SGAs) and National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Alumni Associations. Articles highlighting the positive attitudes of HBCU students and graduates are archived online at http://greaterdiversity.com/call-to-colors/
- Carnell Robinson, one of the originators of the “A Call to Colors” campaign, says that all HBCU Student Government Associations (SGAs), and Black Student Unions (BSUs) on majority college and university campuses across the nation, should be mindful of the importance of effective civic engagement. The afore referenced articles point to an unspoken consensus that todays’ students are desperately needed to complete the unfinished business of the 60’s Civil Rights movement.
“One of the things that will empower our community is massive voter participation and civic engagement,” Robinson, a former chair of the NC Black Leadership Caucus, told GDN. “We have got to increase our numbers.”
Robinson says doing so will fulfill the promise of the 1960s civil rights movement, and the drive for voting rights. After the 2016 presidential election, Robinson said when a subsequent survey found that 70% of eligible 18-29 year-olds did not vote, “…it was a wake-up call. There must be some effort to pass the Civil Rights torch to this new generation. They have got to take the lead, and civic engagement is the way to do it.”
Black students on college campuses must be encouraged to become civically engaged not just during election cycles, but working for the issues important to the African-American community year-round. They can do this through standing campus “A Call to Colors,” civic engagement, committees, which, in turn, can make voting part of the social community fabric.
Students should volunteer 8, 16, even 24 hours or more of civic engagement per election cycle.
As a part of national voter mobilization, GDN is highlighting initiatives that it believes should be models to be replicated as is or modified and replicated to fit individual or organizational differences. One such model is the civic (voter) engagement plan of the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) National Alumni Association. GDN has covered it in a past article that is posted on its website. Other recommended models highlighted on our website are the Alpha Phi Alpha civic engagement plan and the Pit County HBCU Coalition.
Coming soon is an article highlighting the Eastern North Carolina Civic Group’s (ENCCG) recently adopted “A Call to Colors” voter mobilization plan for community-based organizations.
In many of the voter mobilization plans reviewed by GDN, the NAACP is identified as the go to nonprofit to collaborate with. I recommend the 8, 16, 24 volunteer hours or more strategy as a means of uniting all individual and organizations engaged in voter mobilization.
GDN surveys of college students revealed strong student commitments to civic engagement, but very little support from graduate Greeks and HBCU members. The NCCU Model could easily remedy this deficiency.
Because of the need to understand the 400-year arc of Black exploitation, including current voter suppression, GDN recommends The Third Reconstruction, book and video, by Bishop William Barber.
The student pledge of volunteer hours should also be taken by churches, other HBCU Alumni Associations, civic and community organizations, and individuals. Pledge hours through an established nonpartisan organization like the NAACP, enables all voter mobilization activities to be coordinated and thereby much more strategic than freelance activities.
Other models include The Pitt County HBCU Coalition, Alpha Phi Alpha voter mobilization and ENCCG voter mobilization plan.
Among other things, GDN recommends that all HBCU SGAs and Black Student Unions (BSUs) incorporate the following in their efforts:
- Standing civic engagement/A Call to Colors committees for SGAs and Black Student Unions (BSUs)
- Earn up to 200 hours/4 years credit for civic engagement
- Do outreach to Greeks, other student organizations and other schools