Through CYPF, our hope to is to meet young people where they are, no matter how big or small their effort might be. As legendary organizer Fred Hampton put it, “We will work with anybody and form a coalition with anybody that has revolution on their mind.”
We’re excited to introduce one of our grantees, the Vikings Vote project at Elizabeth City State University, a public, historically Black university in Eastern North Carolina. Vikings Vote aims to increase the level of student voter engagement among the ECSU student body by focusing on students’ needs—including healthcare, education access and affordability, safety, and social justice.
Organizers hope to increase the student voting rate to at least 36% in the March 2022 primary election. To get there, the group is hiring student ambassadors to plan and implement the voter engagement programs and conduct voter registration drives on campus. Additionally, the group will distribute materials all over campus with information on how to register to vote and the rights of voters.
To learn more about this work, we interviewed Jordan Brooks (she/her) from the Viking Vote team. Jordan is a member of ECSU’s Class of 2023 and a criminal justice major. She was born in Maryland and grew up in Pennsylvania before coming to ECSU.
Tell us a little bit about where you grew up. How did this shape you?
I grew up in a small rural area. I had a hard time adjusting to Pennsylvania’s culture. As a kid, I was accustomed to being in the city which made the move even harder. However, while living in Pennsylvania I received great education which founded my love for school.
Was there a moment or experience you had that sparked you to get involved in organizing?
Growing up and dealing with racial tensions sparked my hunger to want to impact the world. I grew up in a white, rural area; being a Black girl in white America had a lot of pros and cons. In terms of pros, I went to a good school and was blessed to experience a lot of good things that my counterparts had no access to. I organize and advocate to improve the quality of living for all.
Elizabeth City made national headlines in April when police killed Andrew Brown, Jr., a 42-year old Black man. Can you share a little bit about what this meant for the community at ECSU?
The death of Andrew Brown, Jr. had a huge impact on ECSU. My peers expressed an array of emotions including sadness and anger. Andrew’s death sparked student activism on campus. Students were able to activate their voices using online platforms like social media and participate in the local marches. Many students joined local community members in peaceful protest. It was truly a unifying experience. As a criminal justice major and an HBCU student, I felt obligated to do something. I was able to partner with local community groups, attend forums on social justice and equality, and use my voice to advocate for equality for all.
When you think about a civically engaged community at ECSU, what does this look like to you?
I visualize people fellowshipping and working together to build a better community. Also, a youth mentoring program would be a great idea for ECSU. This program would consist of helping local youth navigate through the future.
Are there folks in your life, public figures, or ancestors who you look to for wisdom?
I look to God for wisdom.
What would you say is your superpower? (Bonus: What would your superhero name be?)
I like to think I’m calculated. I ask a lot of questions and make decisions based on cause and effect. My superhero name would be “Kid Calculator.”