A panel discussion was part of the "Voices that Vote" event held at Thomas Nelson's Workforce Development Center.
With the presidential election less than a month away, two events aimed at encouraging people, young and old, to vote took place at Thomas Nelson's Hampton campus last week.
The first was “Prom at the Polls,” on Oct. 6 at the Workforce Development Center and on Zoom. It encouraged people to make a prom-poll-sal by dressing up to vote and making it a social and meaningful event. A drive-thru voter registration booth was in front of the center.
The hosts for the virtual portion of the event were Thomas Nelson student Jacquette Barnes and Political Science Professor Leo Keneally. Also on hand were Felicia Jeter, who discussed the drive-thru registration; Thomas Nelson students and first-time voters Shawn Bryant, D.J. Parman, Ryan Grant, Becca Jackson (contributing in via Zoom); and baby boomer Glenda Knighton, who also is a student in one of Keneally’s classes.
Student Iyanna Tucker, and Hampton Roads resident Nicole Aponte presented pre-recorded videos. Tucker read a poem she had written to Generation Z about the importance of voting, and Aponte discussed the Puerto Rican vote in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). Thomas Nelson interim president Dr. Gregory DeCinque, incoming president Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon, and more than 50 students participated in the Zoom portion.
The following night, Oct. 7, Thomas Nelson teamed up with the City of Hampton and the Good People Group for a roundtable discussion titled “Voices that Vote.” Again, there was a live element as well as a virtual portion. In the latter, Hampton Mayor Donnie R. Tuck, Thomas Nelson Interim President Dr. Gregory T. DeCinque, former Thomas Nelson professor Dr. Turner M. Spencer, and current professors Marian Clifton and Patrick K. Smith discussed the importance of voting. Donald Hurdle, Donavan Devlin and Misunderstood provided musical performances.
Participating in the roundtable discussion were Crystal Carrington, Donald Hurdle Jr., Ja-Vell Bullard and Lathaniel Kirts of the Good People Group; Thomas Nelson professor Keisha Samuels, Latiesha D. Handie and Gabe Diaz from Hampton’s Citizen’s Unity Commission, and Thomas Nelson students Elizabeth Yimer and Iyanna Tucker.
The event was streamed live on Zoom, and the Facebook pages of Thomas Nelson and the City of Hampton’s Citizen’s Unity Commission. Within 24 hours, there were almost 900 views.
“When this group said they would like to start a partnership with Thomas Nelson Community College and the City of Hampton, we met to talk about several different things as it relates to social justice and societal change,” Handie said. “But we wanted to make sure we were talking on timely issues and concerns that impact our community directly. And voting was one.”
She was excited with the response.
“I think things went very well,” Handie said. “I think we created platforms for everyone to connect, regardless if they had to virtually by Facebook, by Zoom. We sent out a lot of information and provided resources so that they could educate the community on the right to vote.”
Carrington founded the Good People Group in late May. Its goal is to be proactive in sparking positive change in the community. Voting is one way to do that. She, too, was excited after the event.
“I think it went amazing,” she said. “I think we exceeded our expectations, and I’m looking forward to continuing to have things like this.”
Remember the last day to register to vote in Virginia is Oct. 13, and Election Day is Nov. 3.
To view the “Voices that Vote” roundtable, go to tncc.edu.