It is alarming to see a 10.6 percent decrease in HBCU student voting and a 5.3 percent decrease in total Black student voting between the 2012 and 2016 elections, given the history and tradition of HBCU and Black student political participation.
The Legacy Initiative came out of the desire to understand the specific barriers of these students and campuses instead of assuming that they simply did not want to participate in the electoral process.
Campus Vote Project's Legacy Initiative aims to identify and address barriers to student voting on HBCU campuses, and Black student voting on predominantly white campuses, through various methods of research and the creation of new and innovative resources.
Preserving the Voices & Votes Of
Black Students Nationwide
The impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in United States history and politics is large and substantial. Since their inception, these institutions have produced pioneers of numerous industries. Their involvement in national and local movements such as organizing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which organized the Freedom Rides of 1962 (Shaw University), the Greensboro Sit-Ins of 1960 (North Carolina A&T State University), and the local desegregation activities of South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, and many more, provide proof of a commitment to civic activity and political involvement.
Given this history and tradition, it is alarming to see a 10.6% decrease in HBCU student voting and a 5.3% decrease in total Black student voting between the 2012 and 2016 General Election.
In preparation for the 2020 Election, Campus Vote Project's Legacy Initiative and the NAACP Youth and College Division partnered to identify barriers to student voting on HBCU campuses through open and honest conversations, called HBCU Roundtables. The information and perspectives presented are the result of two HBCU Roundtable discussions held on April 21, 2020 and June 04, 2020, with 45 HBCU students representing 20 different campuses. This research outlines four major themes that emerged during these discussions and proposes solutions for those who engage and support HBCU students as they exercise their right to vote.
Found in the Legacy Initiative Insights Brief.
Lack of administrative support for campus work
Administrators support students and oversee campus operations in many facets, but at this this dynamic can create tension between two parties in the process of increasing voter engagement on HBCU campuses.
Misinformation and counterproductive communication with fellow students
In the last election we saw misinformation become a problem that touched every part of oru society and HBCU campuses were not exempt. Inaccurate and/or skewed information from biased sources create an additional barrier to increase voter engagement on their campuses to do conversations about the legitimacy of the electoral process and the value of the Black vote.
Contentious relationships with local elected officials and offices
Local elected officials have the ability to provide a wealth of resources and guidance to HBCU students. Unfortunately, the relationship between local elected officials and HBCU students does not always live up to the potential that it could because of contention caused by adherence to the stereotypes of differing political views.
Intermittent engagement with candidates and third party organizations
During election season, many organizations work hard to educate and mobilize students around issues and candidates seek to make their case for election. The problem is that HBCU campuses are often not engaged until very late in the cycle, if at all.