Local elections were held Oct. 8 in Raleigh and it offered real-life lessons for Saint Augustine’s in how to be good citizens. The SAU community held its annual March to the Polls event to emphasize the importance of voting.
“We’re going to do what?” Interim SAU President Dr. Gaddis Faulcon shouted before the march began.
“Vote!” students shouted back. Then they marched to the Tarboro Road Community Center, led by the Superior Sound Marching Band.
The students’ vote may have played a role in the re-election of veteran City Councilman Corey Branch, the incumbent representative for District C, the district where the university is located. Branch won with 63.3% of the vote. Other candidates trailing Branch were Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi, second with 22.8% of the vote; Wanda Hunter, with 11.3%; and Ricky Scott, with 2.7%.
Branch actively campaigned for support from SAU students. He made a visit to campus Oct. 2 and appealed to Falcons on his Facebook page the next day. “Looking forward to students of Saint Augustine’s voting…Everyone we need you,” he said in the post.
The March to the Polls inspired many students, such as Nolan Sweeting.
“It’s just so good to see Saint Augustine’s students, as Falcons, just to come together and exercise our obligation to vote,” Sweeting said.
Saint Augustine’s student Mareyah Washington felt that the event was empowering.
“We feel like we don’t really have a lot of say as to what goes on but we are going to be here for the longest time so we should have the biggest amount of say as to what goes on,” he said. “And as African Americans we haven’t always had the right to vote. We had to fight so hard for it so it’s really important for us to take charge of these kinds of events.”
“I think it’s important for us to have our voices heard,” added SAU student Markyl Wilson. “In Raleigh, specifically where our school is, there have been a lot of changes and we have to make sure that we make changes that we need.”
Mackeyla Davis, a Common Cause NC Democracy Fellow at SAU, stated that she wanted the March to the Polls to be educational. “I hope that this helps students recognize that they need to vote…This is a civic duty that we need to take,” she said.
– Christopher Ingram