J.C. Smith University SGA President Committed to Student Civic Engagement – GDN Exclusive “A Call to Colors” Vol. II Part XIby Greater Diversity News April 10, 2019
If more colleges and universities had more outstanding students and future leaders at their schools like Jameia Booker, Student Government Association president at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte since May 2018, negativity would never stand a chance.
The youngest of five from Atlanta, Ga., Ms. Booker, 22, and a first generation college student – will be graduating this May and attending law school afterwards.
But the lessons in student leadership learned at J.C. Smith will stay with her a lifetime.
“I just fell in love with this school at first sight,” Ms. Booker shared with Greater Diversity News (GDN) recently. “It was a family vibe. And I just fell in love with the history of this school…how freed slaves built the Biddle building brick by brick.
Ms. Booker became a part of student leadership because she felt she “needed motivation…needed a push to accomplish her goals.” It wasn’t long before Booker made it her mission to “leave a legacy on this campus.”
So she joined the Golden Bulls Activities Committee (becoming co-chairman); later became sophomore class president; and served over the Student Senate.
Ms. Booker saw her role as giving students both voice and opportunity on campus, and keeping them motivated, so she worked hard to “keep the school spirit alive.”
“One thing about Johnson C. Smith University, the pride is definitely there, so we rock the gold and blue,” she told GDN. We love our school…. we are the Golden Bulls.”
So when in comes to student civic engagement, particularly as it comes to non-partisan voter registration, education and mobilization come election time, J.C. Smith University SGA President Jameia Booker has been both focused and committed.
As president of the campus Criminal Justice Association, she led a “Law and Order Civics 101” series, where new Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden came in help students “Know Your Rights” before taking them to the polls to vote.
Indeed, an “Early Election Kickoff” was also held so that all the local candidates for office could come in and speak with students about the issues, including 12th District Congresswoman Alma Adams, for whom Booker once interned.
They even had activist Kendrick Cunningham, an alum of St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, come to speak to students about voter ID, and why it was important for them to be aware of the legal restrictions on using student ID.
Of course, the key civic engagement activity was campus voter registration, in which, in addition to the voter education component, yielded approximately 250 students marching to the polls to cast their ballots and rightfully be heard.
“We actually tried to sponsor events about voting so that students would know their rights,” SGA President Booker said, noting that a lot of the student civic engagement activities were in partnership with the NAACP, the Political Science Association, and many of the other 52 active organizations on campus.
Visionary HBCIU students like Jameia Booker make alumna like Christy S. Bryant, president of the Johnson C. Smith University’s National Alumni Association and endorser of “A Call to Colors” proud. “A Call to Colors” is a student focused, voter education, organization and mobilization initiative started by GDN.
“…[O]ur student populations are getting to see not only what’s going on, but also [how] issues affecting HBCUs are negatively impacting them,” Ms. Bryant, of the class of ’75, says… “They’re our future leaders, so we have to get them engaged in what’s going on.
“It is really imperative for students to know the issues, and be involved with voting, while they’re in college,” Jameia Booker says, “… because this affects the African-American community.”
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)
- Students volunteering 8,16, 24 hours or more per election cycle
- Earn up to 200 hours/4 years credit for civic engagement
- Do outreach to Greeks, other student organizations and other schools