A New Decade, A New Politics, A New Economics – Institutionalizing Civic/Voter Engagement – GDN Exclusiveby Afi G. Osakwe, GDN Contributing Writer February 15, 2021
In the 2018 and 2020 midterm and general elections, the politics of deliberate and systematic voter suppression created an enormous backlash at the polls as millions of voters were registered, educated, and mobilized (VREM) to Get Out the Vote (GOTV) by many anti-voter suppression groups throughout the country. The efforts were nonpartisan and directed at those who continue attempting to prevent as many people as possible from exercising the franchise.
As the new decade is breaking, a new approach to civic/voter engagement requires nonpartisan approaches that pursue economic sustainability from corporations responsible for voter suppression and economic inequality against people of color [see more about this at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC Exposed)]. This Jim Crow approach to dealing with Black people significantly hindered voting and continues to do so, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and therefore their alumni, students, Divine 9 (D9–fraternities and sororities), faith-based, and nonpartisan organizations affiliated with their franchise. Therefore, Corporate America should be asked to help by underwriting HBCUs and their enterprises.
As early as 2018 in North Carolina, two entities that had been working separately with their own VREM projects for years, joined their successful efforts. Attorney Peter Grear, (class’66, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Fayetteville State University) Publisher of Greater Diversity News (GDN), initiated its non-partisan civic/voter engagement initiative, “A Call to Colors” (ACtC). The Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and North Carolina Central University (NCCU), had a student-driven, alumni-advised civic/voter engagement initiative operating through their Student Government Association (SGA). The National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alumni Associations Foundation (NHBCUAAF)Histor approached GDN to find out more about ACtC. The result led to the GDN/NHBCUAAF and NCCU, a NHBCUAAF member school, collaborative for Civic/Voter engagement. It created the Civic Engagement and Advocacy Committee (CEAC), as a standing committee; and is quickly becoming a model for all other HBCUs to follow. The National NCCU Alumni Association (NNCCUAA) adopted the initiative. Other models followed and are referred to as CEAC/ACtC models by GDN.
Richard D. Smith, NCCU ’81 CEAC Vice President and Vice President for Strategic Development, of the National HBCU Alumni Association Foundation (NHBCUAAF), a membership and support organization of HBCU Alumni Association leaders that collaborate and partner to procure resources from government, corporations and foundations on the local and global level to provide support and funding for HBCUs, spearheaded the official endorsement of NHBCUAAF. This gives the CEAC/ACtC models even more leverage as a tool not to be dismissed but embraced.
“Grear says, GDN is recognized, “as the major media and communications hub of the NHBCUAAF/ACtC collaborative and helps promote and evolve the five models to actualize their objectives and to more efficiently launch institutionalizing the civic/voter engagement tool through the replication process. It needs the immediate financial help of corporations to expedite the process.” GDN publishes articles about the various member entities or models within the CEAC/ACtC models, conducts media campaigns, and otherwise highlights the efforts and successes of all aspects and individuals assisting with its national branding and is part of regular CEAC/ACtC Zoom meetings and strategic planning sessions.
Each HBCU chapter has the same written roles and responsibilities, skills and qualifications, and position requirements. As each HBCU adopts the model, strategic planning and technical assistance is shared and the process is replicated with the vision and expertise through the national chapter.
This new decade requires the institutionalization of this process. The model operates by volunteers and requires financing. Corporate America can be a major contributor to this initiative; not just because of its role in voter suppression and economic inequality, but because the CEAC/ACtC model reaches millions of their customers who have HBCU affiliations, interests, hopes, and visions that they continuously work toward without needed resources. That’s billions upon billions of dollars they expend with corporations that are never returned in amounts that matter or make a productive impact.
It’s a new decade. A new politics. And a new economics. Let us institutionalize the CEAC/ACtC approach and work together. Institutionalize civic/voter engagement.
In the interest of expanding our collective efforts to address the injustices of Corporate America, GDN invites you to subscribe to our free eNews, go to: www.greaterdiversity.com to keep informed. Become a member, participate in our Facebook user group, “A Call to Corporate America”, post to your social media groups about this initiative, and to participant in our monthly Public Zoom meetings (details TBA).