You Voted, Now What? HBCUs Band Together to Discuss Post-Election Political Activism

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Picture credit: Katie Rodriguez on Unsplash

The 2020 Presidential Election season has sparked a fire within America like no other. Motivated by a need to be represented in the political arena, millions of Americans rallied to place their votes in for the next President of the United States, who is now Joe Biden. However, does a push for change in this country end with who becomes the President? Not when it concerns Hampton University’s Political Science Club. 

 On Monday, November 7th at 7 p.m EST, Hampton University, joined by several other HBCUs including but not limited to Texas Southern, Dillard, Jackson State, Norfolk State, and more, held a joint event, “You Voted! Now What?” That evening, the schools discussed what to do to ensure change post-election. 

The event hit the ground running with an impactful message from a special guest, U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi’s 2nd congressional district. He advised students to remain involved past the election date and to continue to stay active in one’s community, for local politics directly influence the area in which one lives. 

“You don’t disengage, you stay engaged,” Representative Thompson said. “In a democracy, you stay involved.” 

From there, the conversation started on the matter of political efficacy, which is the measure of citizens’ trust in their influence upon politics and policy. Students from various HBCUs agreed that the best move to make after the election is to remain involved, be aware of your local representatives, and ultimately assimilate yourself within the community. By becoming involved in your local community, you can keep abreast of changes to policy and have a better understanding of how potential bills can impact the area in which you live. 

The consensus amongst Hampton students, as well as other HBCU students attending, was that while voting is a very important part of maintaining your voice, it is just as important to make sure your elected officials are aware that they have a responsibility to the people first. 

The second topic of the night was that of voter registration and, more specifically, voter suppression. A recurring problem regarding election seasons on their own, voter suppression has become even more important to talk about this election because of its popularity and how stressed voting has become. Event attendees were challenged to name as many possible sources

of voter Suppression there are, in which things as broken poll machinery, Exact Match laws, and lack of accessible voting stations were named. 

To solve this, HBCU representatives at this event offered volunteering at voting stations so that there was more personnel for more voting areas to open up, thus increasing accessibility. Also, lobbying against Exact Match laws was suggested, as exact signature match laws can easily result in an invalid vote if your signature has changed from the one listed on your registration. 

Overall, perhaps the most important discussion of the night was when the conversation switched to institutionalized racism. How best to be protected in a country that wasn’t originally meant to protect black citizens and how to make your voice heard when elected officials fail to represent you. 

As we live in a time in which racial tensions are high, and acts of violence against black people and minorities, in general, are becoming more and more common, the HBCU representatives present at the event stressed that unity amongst black people is key. Now more than ever, it is imperative to band together and ensure that everyone is made aware of the black voice. Whether it be police brutality against a black man or a black woman or a case of social injustice, the black community should band together to support change on all fronts. 

With this in mind, the conversation shifted back to activism, and the idea of holding elected officials responsible. From knowing who your representatives are to holding them accountable, we can ensure that our representatives represent the people, looking out for our interests, instead of working for their own. 

As the event closed, the HBCU attendees advised each other to make sure that they are aware of their representatives through apps like Causes, an app that lets you know who your representatives are and how to contact them. They made it clear that while voting and the election is a wonderful first step, it is not the only step. We must continue the fight for the change that we want. We fight today so that tomorrow is easier.

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