By Summer Brown, Campus Reporter
Photo via Instagram
As the 2020 presidential election draws closer, the discussions around voter participation are not only becoming more frequent, but more necessary. This year, Howard University’s Student Association (HUSA) is partnering with the #VoteHBCU Challenge. The goal of their initiative is to encourage voter registration across HBCUs as well as to emphasize the importance of our voice.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, HUSA held a Zoom webinar further elaborating on the importance of the college student vote. Those featured on the panel discussion included leaders in the Howard community who were eager to speak on what is at stake in this upcoming election, including a Professor of Howard’s School of Law, Justin Hansford.
“For those that are passionate about the things that have taken place over the last few months, whether it’s Covid relief or police violence, all of these issues are on the ballot. The issue itself is on the ballot or in the form of a candidate.” Hansford said.
Panelists on the webinar also emphasized the history of our constituency. African American’s gaining the right to vote is a power that was long fought for, and the fight is not over. It wasn’t until the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that both black men and women were eligible to vote. Despite that, Black people continued to be disenfranchised in the system. Literacy tests, poll taxes and the distribution of false information were all forms of voter suppression that are now factors in the current election. This panel helped attendees realize there is power in their vote.
“If it wasn’t important, people wouldn’t try to take it away. We get to look back, and this contributes to our legacy as black people.” HUSA President, Rachel Howell said.
The current HUSA administration chose to speak on the importance of student activity in both local and national elections. There are 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across America that are home to over 200,000 students. If HBCU students, alumni, and supporters alone were to go full force to the polls, there would be an undisputed impact.
Photo via Instagram
Junior, Kylie Burke serves as HUSA’s Executive chief of staff and is passionate about student’s involvement in the 2020 election. She says they are actively exploring ways for people to get involved and one way is by actually working at the polls.
“HUSA realized that voter registration and engagement weren’t the only components we needed to focus our efforts on. Poll workers serve a vital role in the security of our democracy, and in most states, you get paid to do it! Poll worker’s wages vary by county but, for example, students in Washington, D.C. can make $250 – $300,” Burke said.
The investment in HBCUs is a major topic in and outside of politics. Furthermore, the panelists spoke briefly on how this election hits close to home with the presence of our Howard Alumna, Sen. Kamala Harris on the ticket and how she is raising awareness about our institutions.
“With her being a part of history, this shows us how valuable an education from an HBCU is. Not only is she just a woman of color, but she is a black woman from Howard University,” Howell said.