HBCU Perspectives on Super Tuesday, the Right and American Rights
As Super Tuesday’s results highlighted division within the Republican Party, members of the HBCU community continued discourse about their perceptions and expectations of this political season.
Tuesday’s votes meant additional success for Mitt Romney, who won six states, and underdog status for Rick Santorum, who won three states, while Newt Gingrich won Georgia.
Although many minorities ideologically lean left, and many showed up in record numbers supporting Barack Obama in 2008, HBCU political involvement remains multifaceted.
HBCU communities power up through grassroots endeavors and report political progress at their colleges and universities. For some, it is about boosting one’s own burgeoning identity. For others, it becomes an opportunity to galvanize groups in and around their campuses.
Brooke Moore White, a Los Angeles native and sociology major at Tuskegee University, said that the political movement in Tuskegee is strong.
“In Tuskegee there’s a lot going on in terms of the youth movement,” Moore White said.
The senior is preparing to run for city council in the area, and is joined by other students in political aspirations, she said.
Two Tuskegee students are running to be delegates in the Democratic National Convention.
Of political engagement in Tuskegee she said, “It’s kind of amazing to see all of the students who are willing to jump on. The students are definitely receptive.”
With regard to Tuesday’s results and the implications for president Obama’s reelection, she said, “I really don’t think the GOP is much of a threat.”
Moore White critiqued GOP candidates, but she also emphasized the importance of individual and collective efforts. Governmental dependence is not the answer.
“A lot of things that need to be done can be done by ourselves,” she said.
Grambling State University history graduate student, Edrick Cornes, expressed similar sentiments. He said that society needed minimal government interference and in some cases, none.
The self-proclaimed “liberal with some conservative agendas” is a native of Tunica, Mississippi, and drew parallels between Super Tuesday’s results and the power of capital.
It was not shocking that Romney fared well, according to Cornes. “He has the most promotion; therefore, he will be the most liked.”
He joked that political preferences can be bought and promoted through money, just like toilet tissue.
As for school assistance with political identity, Cornes said that attending Grambling helped because he encountered diverse people and acquired diverse knowledge.
Grambling political science and mass communication graduate, Janaya Scott, said that people of color should participate in the political process.
The Cincinnati native said, “Minorities need to be actively involved with local politicians as a whole and be able to effectively communicate their issues to government officials that can represent them.”
Hampton University graduate Nailah Ricco applies politics to her life through her community. Ricco earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hampton, and a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
The Harlem native works for an education non-profit as a supervisor of community organizers and director of civic capacity.
Although she does not vote, she learned political lessons at Hampton. She said that reading W.E.B. DuBois’ “Why I Won’t Vote” played an integral role in shaping her perspective.
Ricco emphasized sensitivity to cultural norms, but also said that people must be free to find their own truth.
Choosing to express that truth can be an isolating experience, she shared. Ricco said that when she conveyed interest in Cynthia McKinney, the 2008 Green Party presidential nominee and former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, some Obama supporters shunned her.
As she recalled the experience, her tone remained calm and opinions rooted in self-satisfaction. She spoke of courage.
“Be brave enough to demand that those politics at least look like you, and reflect what you want them to.”
“Find what it means to be you in the face of a Democratic system.”
Digest Columnist Imani Jackson is an award-winning journalist and mass communication graduate of Grambling State University. Currently a freelance writer, she served as editor-in-chief of The Gramblinite newspaper for two and a half years. Follow her @faithspeaks on Twitter.