North Carolina Central University Alumni Ready to Go with “A CALL TO COLORS” Phase II – GDN Exclusive Vol. 2 Part Iby Cash Michaels, GDN contributing writer January 2, 2019
Vote like an Eagle!
It has been over a month since the 2018 midterm elections, and by most accounts, turnout in the African-American community was good.
But if the national alumni associations of many North Carolina historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are any indication, voter turnout for presidential year 2020 must be even better, especially among young people.
Thus, Phase II of “A Call to Colors,” Greater Diversity News – sponsored civic engagement campaign to register, and then mobilize student voters on every HBCU campus thereby activating supporters now and not waiting.
Going forward towards presidential year 2020, the campaign, headed up by HBCU national alumni associations and their chapters, are creating standing committees for nonpartisan civic engagement.
As outlined by GDN Publisher, Attorney Peter Grear, in a recent article, the committee members “…would ask their members to volunteer 8, 16, 24 hours or more per election cycle, to help educate, organize and mobilize Black voter participation. Volunteer activities could include making telephone calls, Facebook postings, door knocking, helping to prepare for Voter IDs, organizing their churches or other community-based organizations, Greek organizations, working polls, supporting the NAACP and more.”
HBCU student government associations (SGAs) would be asked to make similar civic engagement pledges, coupled with twice-a-year student rallies promoting civic engagement and student organizations.
Ultimately, in the leadup to upcoming elections, SGAs would convene student leaders of Greek, NAACP and other organizations to plan strategies targeting voter registration and mobilization. Black Student Unions (BSUs) would be urged to replicate these efforts.
The Pitt County HBCU Coalition pioneered the model utilizing “A Call to Colors.” Now more are following suit.
Richard D. Smith, a former national president of the NCCU Alumni Association, is currently chairman of the association’s Student Employment and Outreach Committee.
“We’re attempting to incorporate Greater Diversity News’ “A Call to Colors” model, and use that frame work and structure as a working committee, talking about civic engagement, and civic awareness for our alumni of NCCU to be aware, engaged and active in the process to talk about those local activities that are effective, [like] legislation, policy, holding people accountable for the well-being of our community.”
Smith added that the Pitt County activity model – working year-round to maximize civic engagement long before upcoming elections – is also a model the NCCU Alumni Association and its committee is looking to incorporate.
Smith, a 1981 NCCU alum, also noted that beyond developing pre-election activities to engage HBCU students and the community, holding elected officials accountable on what they campaigned on after the results are tallied, is also a mandate of “A Call to Colors.”
“After the election, we must make sure that our interests are being looked out for,” Smith said.
Samuel Cooper is the current president of the National NCCU Alumni Association. For him, the goal is keeping local NCCU Alumni Chapters engaged in their local communities with “A Call to Colors” activities not just right before an election, but all of the time.
“HBCUs must be at the forefront…” of civic engagement,” Cooper maintains, pointing towards the successful turnout in the African-American community both across the nation, and North Carolina.
“There is no need to wait for 2019 to put a strategic plan in place for 2020,” Cooper insists, noting that mobilizing voters is the goal. “That strategic planning must be in place now.”
Cooper added that the NCCU Alumni Civic Engagement Committee will be meeting at NCCU on January 12th, 2019. That’s when representatives of alumni chapters from across the country will get a chance to discuss what they’re doing, and strategic next steps.
If there is one area where community civic engagement has fallen short of expected goals, it’s in mobilizing young people, Cooper admitted. “Young people need to get involved in all aspects of the community.”
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