Almost 60 years ago, four black students at North Carolina A&T State University sat down at a whites-only Woolworth’s counter near their campus in Greensboro, NC and refused to move.
Those students sparked a mass movement of sit-ins in over 70 cities across the South, and broke open the potential for youth to be leaders in the Civil Rights movement. Today, NC A&T students are fighting voter suppression on their campus by demanding an early voting site for more than 12,000 students.
The 2020 primary elections are scheduled during NC A&T’s spring break, meaning many students will need to vote early in order to be counted. But the early voting site that was on campus in past elections was eliminated in 2018, meaning students have to walk more than a mile to the nearest site.
North Carolina has a history of black voter suppression. District maps drawn in 2011 were tossed after being proven to disadvantage black voters. But when Republicans redrew the maps in 2016, they split NC A&T’s campus in two, meaning students who live on north campus have to register and vote in a completely different place than those living on south campus. This move diluted the voices of A&T students, dividing them between two districts represented by white Republican state representatives.
But, like the bold student organizers before them, A&T students are refusing to stay silent in the face of injustice. In September, sophomore Cole Riley addressed the Greensboro board of elections regarding the need for an early voting site for NC A&T students.
Video featuring sophomore Cole Riley
When black youth get organized, from sit-ins to voter suppression, they’re sending a message that they expect to have a seat at the table, regardless of their age. This is their world to shape, and they’re not going to sit back and wait for the previous generation to hand it over. Young black leaders are essential to changing our world!
The Color Of Change PAC is educating and organizing students nationwide to make sure they show up for elections and demand elected leaders who care about them. Find out more by visiting colorofchange.org, or contribute to the black student power campaign begun by Cole Riley at secure.actblue.com/donate/blackstudentpower.