Partnership helps NC HBCU students make their voices heard this election

RALEIGH – North Carolina is home to 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with more than 40,000 students attending these schools. Two nonpartisan groups have launched an innovative partnership this election season to help North Carolina’s HBCU students make their voices heard at the ballot box.

The New North Carolina Project Foundation and Common Cause North Carolina are working at all 10 HBCU campuses throughout the state and in nearby neighborhoods to boost civic engagement. The organizations are helping students and community members register to vote, get informed about the candidates, and get to the polls to cast a ballot.

“For many students, this election is their first opportunity to vote. We’re doing everything we can to help students understand the importance of their ballot, ensure they have a positive experience at the polls, and empower them to begin a lifetime of civic participation,” said Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause North Carolina. “Our state’s HBCU students can help decide our present and shape the future for North Carolina. We’re proud to partner with the New North Carolina Project Foundation on this exciting effort.”

As part of this nonpartisan work, the two organizations have recruited Democracy Fellows on each HBCU campus in North Carolina. These outstanding student leaders are engaging their campus community with voter registration drives, nonpartisan voter guide canvassing, candidate forums, marches to the polls, and a wide variety of other activities to ensure students can exercise the power of their vote.

“The New North Carolina Project’s mission is to educate voters about their power to hold our democratic institutions accountable in meeting the needs of their communities,” said Aimy Steele, CEO of the New North Carolina Project. “NNCP’s partnership with Common Cause ensures that HBCU students are reached on their campuses to hear from the Democracy Fellows who look like them and share their experiences about their power to hold our elected officers accountable and shape North Carolina’s future if they vote in November.”

For more than 16 years, Common Cause North Carolina has been leading grassroots work on HBCU campuses in the state through its HBCU Student Action Alliance. Common Cause Democracy Fellows work on their campuses, in the community, at the state legislature, and within the halls of Congress to ensure HBCU students play an active role in our democracy.

Meet some of our 36 Democracy Fellows this semester:

Jasmine Amaniampong, NC A&T State University: “I’m doing get-out-the-vote work because I think it’s very important to get involved with the community you live in and understand what is needed to make a positive change, including voting.”

Jordan Collins, NC A&T State University: “The work I’m doing towards voter registration is important because we are empowering students on our campuses to take action through voting, standing up for their rights, and learning about elected officials so that way we can hold them accountable. Our goal is to inspire and educate others, that way they have a voice in making decisions that will define our future.”

Keva Hernandez, Bennett College: “Getting people to vote is important because Black people need to be involved. We must be educated on why people do not want us to vote and the history behind people getting us to not vote. We must consider the ways in which Black people are routinely denied the right to vote.”

Rheyann Kirby, NC Central University: “I wanted to be a Democracy Fellow with Common Cause because voter disenfranchisement still happens to this day, just in different forms. Through Common Cause I am learning more about the issues and how to deal with them. I am also becoming more civically involved and in turn getting my campus more involved.”

DaNaiyzha Williams, NC Central University: “Being able to vote is important because the people one is voting for will be the ones making the decisions for citizens. They will also be the ones representing this state, county, etc. Voting matters and everyone’s voice deserves to be heard –  that’s why the work I am doing with Common Cause is so important.”

Miles Beasley, Saint Augustine’s University: “Voting is beyond important for so many reasons, not to mention the countless people who died on our behalf. But it’s even more important because we must elect people who have our best interests in mind. Voting is an essential part of being a contributing member of society and because of that it makes it even more valuable. You hold so much power and all you have to do is fill in a blank.”

Nakya Carter, Shaw University: “The importance of the work I’m doing as a Common Cause Fellow on my campus is significant towards the representation of the college student voice and the HBCU community. I take pride in educating my peers about the importance of their vote and the impact it can have on our daily living. Change is brought about when we all work in unity. If one is educated, all can be! The more we vote to protect our community and our colleges, the more effective changes we will see in our everyday lives.”

Here’s a preview of some of our upcoming events (press advisories for these and additional events will be sent closer to the event dates with more details):

Oct. 15 & Oct. 16 – Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte – Students canvassing neighborhoods with nonpartisan voter information, encouraging residents to vote in this year’s election

Oct. 16 – NC Central University in Durham – Students canvassing neighborhoods with nonpartisan voter information, encouraging residents to vote in this year’s election

Oct. 18 – NC A&T State University in Greensboro – “For Our Future Candidates Forum” with students asking questions of local candidates

Oct. 20 – Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte – Bus to the polls and block party to mark the start of early voting

Oct. 23 – Winston-Salem State University – Students canvassing neighborhoods with nonpartisan voter information, encouraging residents to vote in this year’s election

Oct. 23 – Livingstone College in Salisbury – Students canvassing neighborhoods with nonpartisan voter information, encouraging residents to vote in this year’s election

Oct. 27 – NC Central University in Durham – March to the Polls event with students walking together to the early voting site on campus

Nov. 8 – Shaw University in Raleigh – March to the Polls event with students walking together to vote on Election Day

NNCP’s organizing strategy is more than calling voters and knocking on doors. Its purpose is to have a generational impact on voter behavior by harvesting local activities tailored to a community’s cultural, racial, and ethnic makeup. Online:

Common Cause North Carolina is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process. Online:

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