Black Student Movement pushes political awareness

In an effort to promote change and voter participation within their community, the Black Student Movement on Wednesday took steps toward spreading political awareness.

With the Nov. 3 elections approaching, the political action committee of BSM, presented a “Vote & Vote Smart” program to encourage political participation among a community that they said typically has low voter participation.

The group presented the event in conjunction with the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the group United with the Northside Community Now.

Political action committee co-chair Ellen Louis said she hopes the local black community will feel empowered to vote.

“Our message that we want to get across is that it is important to have a stake in community affairs, and that we can potentially promote change in our underrepresented areas like the Northside community,” she said.

Delores Bailey, executive director of EmPOWERment, an agency that promotes empowerment within the black community in Orange County, said students should vote in the election to further the goals of the black community.

“You do not realize how close we are to an extinction of the black community in Chapel Hill and Carrboro,” she said. “Voting is truly where our power is.”

Presenters at the event discussed the different candidates’ political leanings and stances on community issues to help voters become more informed.

But the political action committee did not endorse candidates, opting to allow voters to make their own choices.

“I definitely feel more encouraged to vote because I feel more informed,” said junior BSM member Courtney Spain. “I had always seen different signs around campus, and now I feel more empowered to actually vote and do my own research.”

The program featured a number of community speakers to highlight the often undervalued importance of local elections.

“All politics are local and you will not know that until it affects you, and you do not want it to affect you,” said speaker Kevin Hicks, founding member of Parents and Children Together, an organization aimed to advocate for the children of Chapel Hill.

“You want to affect it.”


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