UMKC students discussed the power of voting at the Mr. or Mrs. President event hosted by African-American sorority Delta Theta Sigma last Friday night.
Attendees walked into Room 302 of the Student Union and were greeted by two registrars. Around 20 students interested in voting filled out a Missouri voter registration application and then took their seats.
Education and interest in voting proved the most important, recurring themes for these African-American voters.
The event began with Delta Theta Sigma alumnus registrars, Evelyn Hedge and Pat Jones, asking, “Who is going to best represent you?” The students remained silent. Jones challenged students to research Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi civil rights activist, if they needed additional inspiration to get out and vote.
Hamer was instrumental in organizing the Freedom Summer of 1964, a civil rights campaign to register as many voters as possible in Mississippi, a state historically associated with voting discrimination.
Event chair Micah Shockley then began the event by posing the first question to the millennial audience. Shockley followed up every discussion with another question, supported by her sorority sisters.
Respondents quickly identified voting as an important way to make an impact — especially when it comes to voting in local elections.
One student cited the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, which specifically helps UMKC students and is an example of how lawmakers can aid young people. The program, better known as the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness, allows students five different repayment plans.
A second short video on the Electoral College explained how votes are counted. Every state has a different amount of electoral votes, based on its population, plus two senator votes, totaling 538. Missouri has 10 electoral votes. To win the race for the White House a candidate must capture a majority of electors, 270.
“How do you encourage others to vote?” Shockley asked the group.
Education was the answer, but not a simple answer at that. Students felt valuable information about candidates and issues was hidden or hard to attain because some candidates or issues were pushed out in front by “loud” media, which included social media. The collective body then asked itself the question, “How do we find better, reputable sources?”
This was one of the most difficult-to-obtain answers. The students discussed how going to the library and reading about candidates could be a possible solution, choosing which candidate they want to research.
Every candidate’s picture was shown and briefly discussed. The collective group then discussed ways to make their individual choices.
Mr. or Mrs. President came to its conclusion around 9 p.m. The attendees and Delta Theta Sigma sorority members joined together for a picture. Before the photo was snapped, attendees smiled and then said together, “Black votes matter!”