Pandemic Can Not Stop NCCU CEAC Voter Efforts – A GDN Exclusiveby Cash Michaels, GDN Contributing Writer July 27, 2020
On Saturday, August 8th, the National HBCU Alumni Foundation’s 6th Annual Leaders Conference Civic Engagement and Advocacy Committee (CEAC) Summit will convene virtually. Hosted by the North Carolina Central University Alumni Association, Inc. (NCCUAA), this year’s theme is “Expanding Alumni Advocacy for HBCUs in a COVID-19 Environment.”
During the course of the one day online event, leaders from alumni chapters across the country will pick up from where they left off a year ago – discussing the vital need for voter education, registration and mobilization in the black community and on HBCU campuses prior to the crucial November 3rd elections, and the five CEAC models designated to assure success.
Except that this is not a year ago. Those deeply involved today in the task of civic engagement and advocacy must do so during a deadly coronavirus pandemic, where the average person is having to negotiate both safety and survival just to get through the day.
The NCCU CEAC is one, and the best developed, of five different voter mobilization models developed as a part the A Call to Colors, a Greater Diversity News (GDN) voter mobilization initiative.
Angela Lewis, chairperson of NCCU’s CEAC tells GDN that while the onset of the pandemic did stun the effort, it did not, and will not, stop it. Going forward, strategies will either take the form of face-to-face, or virtual space online outreach. Both forms are constantly being weighed to determine which would accomplish the ultimate objective.
Indeed, the use of virtual technology has allowed for more people to be reached, and student campus leaders have been proficient in using it during their outreach efforts.
Through the established five-model strategy of employing alumni associations, HBCU student organizations, faith-based institutions, nonpartisan groups and Divine Nine fraternities and sororities, the goal remains targeting as many voter precincts as possible, particularly, for North Carolina, in six key cities – Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville and Durham.
There are HBCUs in all of those cities, so with local HBCU CEACs adopting them in an effort to register 100% of incoming freshmen in concert with likewise coordinated efforts by local churches; NAACP chapters; fraternities/sororities; student and alumni groups, data shows if black voter turnout is significantly increased in those areas, it could positively impact statewide election results.
The success of the ’60s civil rights movement is used as a collaborative model, where faith-based institutions are key “platforms of trust” when it comes to dispensing important information and holding community gatherings and forums where speakers can appear and questions can be addressed.
“This initiative is trying to fight against (belated or misleading) information,” Lewis says. “We’re trying to ensure that our community can fully exercise their right to vote, and they can do it even during this pandemic. And their votes will be counted.”
Lewis adds that, thanks to nonpartisan groups like the NAACP and Democracy North Carolina, Common Cause, Campus Compact, and You Can Vote CEAC can act on the latest, most accurate information available about voting that it can pass on to the community. Doing so guards against attempts at voter suppression, where deliberately twisted and false information is used to confuse and dissuade black voters from exercising their franchise.
And since African American voters see value in voting early, much emphasis will be placed on black voter turnout during the two-week period prior to Election Day.
NCCU CEAC is the first in the nation to employ the civic engagement and advocacy strategies for the purpose of increasing voter registration, education, and mobilization. By developing a relationship with the Pitt County HBCU Coalition and others, Lewis says NCCU CEAC can share the results of much of its work thus far with other CEAC chapters across the state, and nation.
The NHBCUAAF Alumni Leaders Conference CEAC Virtual Summit will begin at 9:30 a.m. We will pass on more information about it as it comes available.
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