TSU’s NAACP Chapter Shows the Power of One Vote
By Sara Phipps Carr
Sara is a journalism major at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. She produced this story on TSU’s NAACP’s voting campaign using an iPhone.
The story is also on Sara’s podcast channel TSU’s NAACP Chapter’s Voting Campaign.
One of the most compelling stories I had to cover this semester was Texas Southern University’s student NAACP chapter’s campaign to register new voters. However, I was disappointed that our local media simply ignored the story.
I have been taught that journalists should cover stories that have impact in their communities. Certainly this story met the basic criteria to be covered. It was organized by students who were hungry to have their voices heard. They were passionate and meticulously organized.
Months before November 2, 2010, they met on the university campus, in their dorm rooms or anywhere they could shape a plan to get their student colleagues to the polls. These young architects of change were fed-up with all of the talk that associated their generation with being indifferent and out of touch.
While statistics certainly showed that young voters did not go to the polls in droves in November, these new champions of civil rights did not accept the lackadaisical attitude of those who sat out the election or buy into the status quo message the media had trumpeted for months. Perhaps that media message effected the turn out.
The students’ in your face campaign, pitching the power of one vote to any student who would listen, was the talk of campus. The campaign worked.
More than eight hundred students were registered to vote. But that wasn’t enough. They took the plan to the next level. On November 2, at high noon, they met at the student center on TSU’s campus. They had bright blue and yellow signs showing pride in what they were about to do. They called the media and told them to be there. They wanted to send a message that they understood the sacrifices made by their forefathers and mothers. They were going to vote.
So they marched. The scene was reminiscent of a 60’s style rally. They chanted and sang civil rights hymns. Then they arrived at their final destination, Lockhart Elementary school. They walked into the building and casted their votes.
If only our local media had covered the story. The humbling thing for me is that I was there. I covered the story. Yes, I covered the story that our local media missed. It’s on the Internet. And now Houston and the nation can see that there’s a group of college students in Houston, Texas who taught us all a very valuable lesson – one vote does count. Maybe the Internet was just what they needed to get their message to the masses when traditional media, for whatever reason, failed to cover the story.
Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “The time is always right to do what is right,” would have been proud of these foot soldiers of the 21st century.