According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voter turnout for the black population dropped from 66.6 percent in 2012, to 59.6 percent in 2016.
From the adversities that African Americans faced in the past to cast their votes to politicians in the current elections fighting to earn the “black vote,” the topic of African American voting has been an evolving and important conversation for decades.
To shed light on Black History Month and African American voting rights, Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute hosted African Americans and the Vote in correlation to their Conversations on Justice events in January.
Tureca Brown, a Medical Administration major, detailed her reasoning behind attending the event.
“This is my first time attending an event like this, and I’m very interested in hearing different people’s opinions about voting and trying to make a difference in the [black] community.” Brown also spoke on why she feels so connected to this topic. “I feel as young adults, we are the ones that can bring change to the community, and if we vote, we can make a difference.”
The event touched on many different topics from the restrictions of African American voting during the Jim Crow era, the steps of social change and how college-aged students can work to uphold civil rights.
Deshawn Williams, the West Campus SGA President, discussed how important it is to be present in government and the importance of teaching younger generations to be involved in their communities.
“If we don’t stand up for these rights, we will realize how many of them can be stripped away,” Williams said. “We need people to rise up and take a step to pull one another up, in order to produce more self-sustaining human beings.”
Carmen Laguer Diaz, a Valencia an Anthropology Professor and the event’s speaker, discussed in more detail why conversations about college students voting are so important. “Showing students that there is a bridge, in regard to what they learn and what they do should not stay on campus, but be brought outside into their daily lives.” Diaz continued, “These conversations help students learn to understand a variety of perspectives that they will be exposed to, and realizing that, although we may or may not agree with them, we must still learn about them.”
With Florida’s Democratic primary election for President happening March 17, those interested in being a part of these elections must register to vote by February 18 at registertovoteflorida.gov.