‘Your Vote DOES Matter,’ Civic Leaders Tell CSUN’s Students
“How many of you all know when the Civil Rights Act was actually put in place?” asked Department of Africana Studies Chair Theresa White.
A couple of reluctant hands went up as attendees guessed at random. Finally, a student’s voice rose above the rest, announcing the correct year — 1964.
“Today, I think, is particularly important,” White said. “It’s important for students to understand how significant civic engagement is, and how important it is for students to maximize and exercise their [voting] rights that we didn’t have so long ago.”
In honor of Black History Month and in an effort to increase voter participation among African American students, the Department of Africana Studies and the Black House Team presented “Your Vote DOES Matter,” on Feb. 16 in the University Student Union Thousand Oaks Room.
Guest speakers in attendance included state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) and civil rights activist Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of the late civil rights leader Rev. Ralph David Abernathy.Abernathy, an actress and author, chronicled the lives of her father and his best friend, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., during her lecture highlighting pivotal and historical moments of the Civil Rights Movement, such as the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery march for African American voting rights.
Abernathy’s experience with violence during the Civil Rights Era began with the bombing of her parents’ home and her father’s First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. She and her siblings witnessed and participated in all of the major Civil Rights movements and marches, including the Freedom Riders movement.
“My dad and uncle Martin did their part and changed the world in my lifetime, so that we would have a better world to live in,” Abernathy told the crowd of CSUN students. “If you want the world to be better, then you have to change it. That’s why your votes count and that’s why you’re here today. You have to understand that [knowledge] gives you anything.”
Bradford emphasized how consequential it is for young voters, especially young African American voters, to show up to vote and fulfill their civic engagement duty in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.”Voting is paramount, and I think Miss Abernathy shared the importance of voting, but more importantly the sacrifices that we’ve all made in this country — especially people of color — to have the right to cast a vote. Far too many of us take that for granted,” Bradford said.