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Black History Events Examine Fight for Voting Rights

This year’s Black History Month theme, African Americans and the Vote, comes at a crucial time. The struggle for the right to vote is a story of activism and commitment by people of African descent to attain and hold on to this right.

“Since the beginning of the formation of the United States, the right for its citizens to actively engage in the rights, responsibilities, opportunities, protections and supports of the government have been at the center of what it means to be America and for one to be an American,” said Dr. Khadijah O. Miller, NSU history and interdisciplinary studies department chair.

For a full list of Norfolk State’s events and activities go to

 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that gave Black men the right to vote, and it also marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote.  “This year’s Black History Month theme is a historical reminder of the importance of voting in the United States,” said Miller.

“2020 is a presidential election year and that is important given our current political situation with an impeached president,” she said, “however, every year is an important election year, and we hope to emphasize that civic engagement is not an every four-year activity, but it is a daily, weekly, annual activity to ensure we all have the basic rights stated in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.”


 Political science major Maleik Watkins ’22 has taken to heart the right to engage in the political process. Watkins participated in the Biden for President Campaign’s recent Iowa Caucus efforts. He traveled to Waterloo, Iowa, in support of former Vice President Joe Biden’s election bid. As a precinct captain, he took part in grassroots lobbying, which he described as knocking on doors and working the phone banks.

“Voting is simply our civic duty,” said Watkins. “Our ancestors fought hard and many lost their lives so we could have this right. Yet, many of us do not make it a priority to get the polls.”

“As students, in the age group 18-24,” Watkins continued, “our vote holds much power. It is our time to actually use that power!”

Norfolk State’s Black History Calendar of Events presents programming that examines the full gamut of the fight to have the voices of black people heard through the ballot box as well as other pertinent aspects of African American life.

“This year, we have produced programs that feature speakers, authors, activists — citizens who present perspectives on the varied aspects of this theme — the right to vote, voter suppression, restoration of rights, voting for elected officials, equal rights legislation and more,” said Miller.