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People often criticize young citizens from underprivileged areas saying that they would rather stand in line to buy something like a pair of Air Jordans than stand in line to vote, but what if voter registration groups could use this assumption to their advantage?

Clarevonte Williams of Alpha Phi Alpha and Rashad Stanton of Omega Psi Phi have organized a program that ties voter registration booths to shoe stores in their city of Baltimore and works with these stores so that when someone wants to buy new shoes, like a pair of Jordans, they can register to vote and get a discounts.

In October, WatchTheYard.com held a workshop at Morgan State where both of the young men are students and talked to the NPHC members about creating greek events that actually create and enable social change in our communities. In this workshop, we worked on finding problems in the communities and then looked into how to address them by leveraging student’s greek networks and college following to create social action.

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Photo from the WatchTheYard.com workshop at Morgan State

Clarevonte Williams, who came up with this idea for voter registration booths in shoe stores, was at our workshop and reached out to us after to tell us about this amazing idea that he and fellow greeks have set into action and plan on spreading around the United States.

We set up exclusive interview with Williams about his program and what he is doing. Read it below.

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What is the goal of all this?

The goal of all this is to meet people where they are so that all citizens can get registered to vote no matter where they are. In the 2014 election, there was less than 34% of registered voters who actually voted. This is one of the worst voter turnouts in history so we have decided to make a difference in our city so that we can finally have a voice in our community.

How does this exactly work? How do you get the signatures?

There are a few steps involved to make this voter registration program a success. The first step is contacting a location, venue or establishment in which we would like to host a voter registration booth. The next step is getting the approval of the venue as well as the date. We discuss incentives for customers or visitors so that when people register to vote they can receive either a free gift or a cheaper deal on something they might like. An example of this was the last voter registration drive we collaborated with DTLR where we gave away a 15% discount on all purchases for individuals whom registered to vote as well as free hats and hand towels that were donated by dtlr.

Explain how you came up with the idea?

In my junior year at Morgan State University I served as the President of the Political Science Association and I implemented voter registration drives for my entire university and I saw a difference in my student body from not engaging in politics to discussing the upcoming election. Therefore when myself and a colleague of mine (Rashad Stanton) was appointed to the Baltimore City Youth Commission we both decided to do something different in these positions that predecessors before us haven’t been able to do successfully

Who all is involved? Who are the Greeks involved and what chapters are they in?

There have been a number of volunteers from all organizations whom have came and supported me when I register people to vote however my partner whom is apart of the commission and helps me contact different locations is Rashad Stanton(AcePiFall10) Omega Psi Phi

What stores are involved?

We have already partnered with Downtown Locker Room, Shoe City, Maxies Bar and grill and multiple locations throughout the City of Baltimore.

Tell us how the first partnership went and how you expect to grow?

The first location that we collaborated with is Downtown Locker Room and it went well we had a DJ, DTLR syndicated radio host and giveaways as well as willing participants there to register to vote. We didn’t have a huge turnout but we registered a good quantity of Baltimore city locals whom didn’t have any interest in registering to vote prior to coming into the store that day. We not only registered locals to vote but we also talked with individuals who didn’t have any interest in politics at all and we received feedback on how they view their government as well as the reasons why they don’t believe in voting. We expect to expand the awareness of voting by continuously registering individuals to vote and instilling the importance on why they should vote throughout venues across the city.

We at WatchTheYard.com would like to congratulate both Clarevonte Williams and Rashad Stanton as well as everyone else involved on their initiative. They used their creativity, resources and their connections in the community to make something great happen. We encourage other cities to try this method of voter registration.

Share this article with a friend on social media and spread the word!

 

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Activism

The Davidson College Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Just Released This Video About Trump’s DACA Repeal

The brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha at Davidson College are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s DACA repeal.

The brothers of the Tau Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. recently released a video publicly standing against the actions to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which provides a level of amnesty to certain undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children – with a six-month delay for current recipients.

On Tuesday, President Trump urged lawmakers to “do your job” with DACA.

In the statement that the chapter released, they stated that their chapter, “stands with the Dreamers and against the proposed DACA repeal.
This is about more than statistics or policy decisions. About 800,000 human beings currently hold DACA status in the U.S. These are our friends, our peers, our neighbors, our family and we have to stand against bigotry & xenophobia and fight with them now.”

Watch their full statement below.

Today, we want to make a public statement. The Tau Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. stands with the Dreamers and against the proposed DACA repeal. This is about more than statistics or policy decisions. About 800,000 human beings currently hold DACA status in the U.S. These are our friends, our peers, our neighbors, our family and we have to stand against bigotry & xenophobia and fight with them now. We ask that you fight with us in our aim to #DefendDACA by donating to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), United We Dream, The Immigrant Defence Project, etc., attending a protest, using social media as a platform to spread awareness regarding this human rights issue, working with the campus community and administration at your institutions to protect your peers, and calling your Congressional representatives. The numbers for the NC Senators and websites for donations are listed below. Sen. Tom Thillis: (919) 856-4630 Sen. Richard Burr: (800) 685-8916 https://action.aclu.org/donate-aclu?ms=web_horiz_nav_hp https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/unitedwedreamaction?refcode=homepagebutton https://www.immigrantdefenseproject.org/donate/ #AΦΑ #ΤΟ #DefendDACA

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The brothers urged the people watching to defend DACA and pointed them in the direction of organizations that are fighting for the rights of immigrants in the United States.

“We ask that you fight with us in our aim to #DefendDACA by donating to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), United We Dream, The Immigrant Defence Project, etc., attending a protest, using social media as a platform to spread awareness regarding this human rights issue, working with the campus community and administration at your institutions to protect your peers, and calling your Congressional representatives.

The numbers for the NC Senators and websites for donations are listed below.

Sen. Tom Thillis: (919) 856-4630
Sen. Richard Burr: (800) 685-8916″

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend these young brothers for speaking out and using their platform to help others. This is what it is all about.

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Activism

Kaepernick Just Donated $25,000 to Help Immigrant Youth Affected By Trump’s Repeal of DACA

San Fransisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick has decided to use his own money and the money he has made from his jersey sales to help the people of the Chicago area by supportingthe largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation to deal with Trump’s removal of DACA.

The 28-year -old member of Kappa Alpha Psi, who refused to stand during the national anthem during NFL games last year said he would donate the first $1 million he made from last season to organizations assisting communities affected by racial injustice and police brutality.

“I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and be able to make the kind of money I do,” Kaepernick said. “I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed,” he said last year.

“I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months,” he said on his website.

One of these communities just so happens to be immigrant children who are currently being threatened by the repeal of DACA.

For his recent pledge, which was announced yesterday,  Colin donated $25,000 to United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation.

“We organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status,” the about section on United We Dream‘s website states.

According to Kaepernick’s website, the $25,000 will go toward the following:

  • Addressing the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth. Over 100,000  members. Current focus: Organize and work for immigrant children to keep DACA in force.
  • 10k for upcoming travel. Air, hotel, lodging, and ground transportation.  United We Dream recently held event in Washington DC and sent 300 dreamers to lobby to keep DACA. This budget will pay for 75-100 attendees for a similar rally upcoming.
  • 10k for series of upcoming local gatherings in NY, CT, TX, FL, NM. Facilities rent and security, transportation, food, technology
  • 5k for text service for the network of over 100,000 members.

Along with this $25,000 donation, Kaepernick has donated to DREAM (Formerly RBI Harlem) a baseball program in Harlem, Coalition For The Homeless, and War on Children.

 

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Activism

These Young Afro Latinas Reciting Victoria Santa Cruz’s “Me Gritaron Negra” Will Give You LIFE!

Me Gritaron NEGRA

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra was an Afro-Peruvian choreographer, composer, and activist who is widely regarded as “the mother of Afro Peruvian dance and theatre.”

She lived from 1922 to 2004 and was one of the major players in the revival of Afro-Peruvian culture and Afrocentrism in Peru that took place during the 1960s and 1970s. In tribute of her impactful work, her poems, specifically “Me Gritaron NEGRA” (They Called Me Black) recited by young Afro-Peruvian and Afro-Ecuadorian girls have started to spread across the internet.

“Me Gritaron NEGRA” is a poem which follows Santa Cruz’s journey to accept and embrace her blackness, starts out with her telling the story of how at the a very young age started to shout “Negra” (the spanish word for Black) at her on the street everywhere she went. This shamed her into straightening her hair and wanting to lighten her skin but eventually she realized the beauty of her blackness and that the truth of this beauty was being hidden from her.

The original version of the poem recited by Santa Cruz is EXTREMELY powerful and might even give you chills.

What is even more powerful than the poem itself is that young Afro Latinas who are the age of Santa Cruz at the beginning of the story that she tells in the poem are now reciting the poem and the message is going viral. By reciting this poem at this young age, these girls, who are Black just like Santa Cruz, are able to take this woman’s story and find pride in it. They are able to put words to their struggles of living in a society with eurocentric beauty ideals and recite this peom as a reminder to themselves about how beautiful and strong they truly are.

Check out this video from Ecuador of a little girl reciting the poem.

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