Voting Key to Addressing Issues, Say NAACP Youth – GDN Student Engagement Specialby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer February 22, 2020
If black college and high school students want a greater voice in the issues that directly affect them, they will need to become politically active, and vote, agreed panelists during a February 19th nationwide teleconference, “The State of Black Students in America.”
Sponsored by the NAACP Youth and College Division, the teleconference was primarily designed to “…draw attention to the increase amount of hate crimes, institutionalized racism, and white supremacy facing Black students all across the nation,” according to the NAACP website about the event.
“The NAACP Youth & College Division is dedicated to developing and training youth leaders to advocate against anti-Black institutions through coalition building, direct action, political education, and civic engagement.”
Promoted for black middle and high schoolers, along with college and university students, among others, and moderated by Tiffany Dena Loftin, the national director for the NAACP Youth and College Division, the teleconference panel of black youth leaders from various high school, college and community groups, generally fielded questions about how to cope with racism on campus, and empower themselves through their response.
During the 90-minute session, a questioner from Prince Georges County, MD asked about “…using the power in the vote, in voter registration, and driving young voters on college campuses to the polls…to drive policy…”
According to panelist Melanie Seals, a senior at Byng High School in Oklahoma, who has successfully challenged the school’s “discriminatory dress code,” and is working to get the Oklahoma legislature to pass a similar law to California’s CROWN Act (“Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair”), “…a law that prohibits employers and schools from discriminating against individuals based on their choice of hairstyles.”
“I think it’s very important [black students] to definitely vote for people who will represent them accurately, and represent the needs going on in the black community.’
Ms. Seals went on to say that without black representatives in the Oklahoma legislature, laws like the CROWN Act “would be impossible.” She added that voting in local elections was also very important for young people, in addition to statewide and federal office.
Seals noted that Sen. Cory Booker (D – NJ) is attempting to pass a version of the CROWN Act in Congress.
Brea Baker, a communications strategist with a B.A in Political Science from Yale University, and another panelist during the “State of Black Students in America” teleconference, said even if black college students are registered to vote in their home state, and not where they attend school, they should still involve themselves with voter registration and GOTV [get out the vote] activities on campus.
The moderator, Tiffany Dena Loftin, lauded the knowledge shared, and indicated that the NAACP would be having a National Voter Registration Day next September, in addition to an upcoming HBCU Tour, and further discussion focusing on student voter mobilization.
Peter Grear, publisher of Greater Diversity News, sponsor of “A Call to Colors’ voter civic engagement campaign on HBCU and Primarily White Institutions (PWI) campuses, listened in to the teleconference, applauded the event, and supports continued focus by the NAACP Youth and College Division on voter empowerment. He suggests adopting the NCCU student voter mobilization model for future national discussion and suggest a North Carolina student voter mobilization call, immediately.
The NC NAACP endorses and supports the call for a NC Black Students Voter Mobilization conference call and is expected to announce developments as details are worked out.
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