Almost 60 years ago, 4 Black students at North Carolina A&T State University sat down at a whites-only Woolworth’s counter near their campus in Greensboro, NC and refused to move.
These students sparked a mass movement of sit-ins in over 70 cities across the South, and broke open the potential of youth to be leaders in the Civil Rights movement.
Just this week, NC A&T students were at it again. They’re fighting voter suppression on their campus by demanding an early voting site for their over 12,000 students. The 2020 primary elections are scheduled during NC A&T’s spring break, meaning many students will need to vote early in order to be counted. But the early voting site that was on campus in past elections was eliminated in 2018, meaning students have to walk over a mile to the nearest site.1
North Carolina has a history of Black voter suppression. District maps drawn in 2011 were tossed after being proven to disadvantage Black voters. But when Republicans redrew the maps in 2016, they split NC A&T’s campus in two, meaning students who live on north campus have to register and vote in a completely different place than those living on south campus. This move diluted the voices of A&T students, dividing them between two districts represented by white Republican state representatives.2
But like the bold student organizers before them, A&T students are refusing to stay silent in the face of injustice. We’re so proud of their fight, and in 2020 we’ll be educating and organizing supporting students like them nationwide to make sure they show up for elections and demand elected leaders who care about them.
Last year, we reached hundreds of Black students at Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman University, and NC A&T through our HBCU brunches. We registered students to vote, gave them information about candidates in their states, and decked them out in “Young, Black, and Voting” t-shirts.
But most importantly, we got them thinking about the power they have as young people to change their communities. When Black youth get organized, from sit-ins to voter suppression, they’re sending a message that they expect to have a seat at the table, regardless of their age. This is their world to shape, and they’re not going to sit back and wait for the previous generation to hand it over.
To make the urgent change we need for Black people to thrive, we need young people to be at the forefront. If you agree that young Black leaders are essential to changing our world, click below to support them with $1 today.
Until justice is real,
Arisha, Jenni, Drew, Charles, Tammi, Daniel, Scott and the Color Of Change PAC team