The Way Forward For “A Call to Colors” – GDN Exclusive – “A Call to Colors” Vol. II, Part XXby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer August 26, 2019
It has been almost a month since the momentous August 3rd National HBCU Alumni Associations Foundation Civic Engagement & Advocacy Committee (CEAC) Summit at NCCU School of Law in Durham.
Representatives from at least 17 HBCUs, local alumni chapters and Divine Nine fraternities and sororities from across North Carolina and beyond, met for the first time to discuss how to implement a unique student civic engagement strategy on the state’s HBCU and non-HBCU campuses known as, “A Call to Colors.”
Developed by GDN publisher Peter Grear, “A Call to Colors’ employs nonpartisan student voter registration, education and mobilization (VREM) efforts, spearheaded by the NC NAACP, targeting the 2020 elections.
The goal is voter empowerment, giving voice at the ballot box to students who are entitled to weigh-in on the substantive issues in the state and nation that affect them.
Angela Lewis, chair of the North Carolina Central University Civic Engagement & Advocacy Committee (NCCU-CEAC), gives the highest marks to the summit for the quality of its focus, vision and participation, and confidently looks ahead towards the challenge at hand.
“It was truly better than I expected,” Lewis told GDN, adding that she has gotten good feedback from attendees and panelists on the information provided, and the clarity of the discussions.
“I think that the energy that was in that room is what we are literally trying to harness and use as we move forward,” Ms. Lewis continued. “The synergy in the room… the commitment for this collaborative partnership effort in moving forward, is what we are embracing now.”
During the CEAC summit, leaders such as Samuel Cooper, president of NCCU Alumni Association, made clear that any and all civic engagement efforts “…must engage young people, or else it would be a losing battle.”
GDN Publisher Peter Grear added implementation of “A Call to Colors” was critical in order to counter well-documented efforts at voter suppression with “surgical precision.”
And with ninety-one adult NAACP chapters across North Carolina for local HBCU alumni and Divine Nine chapters to partner with, and just under 500,000 unregistered qualified potential voters in the state to target, NC NAACP Executive Director, Joseph Alston heralded the summit for its forward vision, and made it clear that the nation’s oldest civil rights organization stood ready to lend guidance and leadership.
“Having that level of commitment from Mr. Alston during the summit was very encouraging,” Ms. Lewis noted.
Lewis added that the summit also revealed “…the depth of work that has to be done” moving forward. NCCU-AA CEAC, as the first to be established in the “A Call to Colors” effort, will model for other alumni associations across the state in terms of organizing its various chapters, and developing the necessary faith-based, Divine Nine, student-engagement and community-based organizational VREM partnerships needed for effective nonpartisan civic engagement to be real.
With the 2019 elections a stone’s throw away, and the crucial 2020 elections just around the corner, realizing and leveraging the important connections each HBCU, alumni association and Divine Nine chapter has with one another, and partners like the NC NAACP and local community-based organizations, along with employing effective data driven strategies that allow for accurate accounting of targeted communities and schools for VREM, will be the way forward, Ms. Lewis says.
Based on what was identified at the summit, a lot of collaborative work locally must now be established, with the singular goal of voter empowerment.
“We are making steps that will allow us to move strategically and tactfully,” Lewis said, “…because time is of the essence.”
ORGANIZING YOUR VOTER MOBILIZATION MODEL
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