In unpacking the matters of civic engagement on HBCU campuses, we must ask ourselves what were the challenges that HBCU Queens faced when trying to engage with their peers for the matters of civic engagement?
One Queen who wishes to not reveal her title shared her first-hand experience of working to ensure students on her campus got out the vote. She shared in her response that her student body lacked a sense of urgency on the matter of being civically motivated to participate. In her eyes, the perception of her student body was that the election, specifically the selection of candidates was not pleasing to them. That sentiment was not something solely within her campus community, instead it echoed across the country as people fathomed the idea of what their voting options were. However, this queen refused to let a lack of motivation disbar her student body from being involved in this election cycle because in her words alone, “there was too much at stake for people especially for HBCU students to stay home and not vote.” I resonated with her words and applauded her efforts to remind her student body that as students who attend HBCUs that we are standing in a world that has always wanted us to be mute, but through the beat of our own drum as a collective body we can truly make a sound for lasting change to keep the doors of our institutions open, fix the potholes in our communities, ensure that our seat at the table is not just a chair but a microphone and voice of reason too.
As a collective challenge, covid-19 placed multiple limitations on activities queens could have. Many queens only had virtual semesters or very finite campus activities due to the on-going pandemic. Organizing events such as voter registration drives proposed threats of outbreaks if materials were not cleaned properly such as pens and clipboards. As a result, queens turned to electronic voter registration drives through online databases like votetolive.org. Being Queens, we had to keep a forward-thinking mindset if for any reason students had to leave campus and return home due to covid-19. For this reason, several queens took initiative to educate their student body on mail in voting as a buffer in case uncertainty struck their campus community.
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