Black Youth Vote National Civic Education Training Tour Promotes Voting
In Iowa

Black Youth Vote National Civic Education Training Tour Promotes Voting In Iowa

As part of​ ongoing efforts to​ motivate young people to​ engage in​ the​ political process,​ the​ League of​ Young Voters Education Fund (LYVEF) recently teamed up with the​ National Coalition on​ Black Civic Participation’s (NCBCP) Black Youth Vote! (BYV!) for an​ innovative civic participation training at​ North High School in​ Des Moines,​ IA. the​ youth later participated in​ the​ Black and Brown Forum Presidential Debate.

Organizers underscored the​ importance of​ voting in​ the​ Jan. 3,​ 2008 primary even though people of​ color make up less than six percent of​ the​ Iowa population. “We are working diligently to​ educate young people on​ the​ role the​ primaries play in​ the​ political process,​” said Rob “Biko” Baker,​ LYVEF organizing director. “We used edutainment - spoken word and writing exercises - to​ tie the​ struggles faced by young adults to​ the​ power of​ the​ vote.”

“Young people must learn the​ entire process. From getting youth-oriented issues on​ the​ table during the​ primaries,​ to​ holding elected officials accountable once they’re in​ office,​” adds Melanie L. Campbell,​ executive director and CEO of​ the​ NCBCP. “This is​ one of​ many trainings we​ are hosting across the​ country to​ educate young people on​ the​ importance of​ voting and teaching them how to​ mobilize their friends and family around issues important to​ them.”

Last month Black Youth Vote! hosted a​ comprehensive training in​ Washington,​ DC to​ prepare state BYV! coordinators to​ go into their community and galvanize young voters. Nearly 80 youth organizers from across the​ country engaged in​ interactive workshops and panel discussions to​ train them on​ voter registration,​ mobilizing young voters,​ voter protection,​ and educating the​ youth on​ issues impacting their demographic.

“There are a​ number of​ issues important to​ Black youth including the​ unprecedented levels of​ African American incarceration,​ high school expulsion rates,​ and their economic future,​” said Jordan Thierry,​ BYV! national coordinator. “Black Youth Vote! connects the​ dots between voting and resolving issues effecting their everyday life.”

“It’s a​ new day in​ America. Black youth under 35 represent nearly 50 percent of​ the​ Black American electorate,​” says Campbell. “Black youth have the​ power to​ impact the​ serious problems confronting the​ Black community. Their movement was energized with the​ historic participation of​ young voters in​ the​ 2004 election,​ followed by the​ massive demonstration in​ Jena. Black Youth Vote! is​ helping to​ channel that movement energy into the​ 2008 election cycle,​” she adds.

Black Youth Vote!,​ ( the​ youth division of​ the​ NCBCP,​ is​ a​ national grassroots coalition of​ organizations and individuals committed to​ increasing political and civic involvement among Black men and women aged 18-35. Founded in1996,​ the​ youth led organization educates young adults about the​ political process and trains them to​ identify issues and influence public policy through participation. BYV! has been instrumental reversing the​ downward spiral among young voters and educating voters who are increasingly disenfranchised from the​ electoral and legislative process.

The League of​ Young Voters Education Fund ( empowers young people nationwide to​ participate in​ the​ democratic process –with a​ focus on​ non-college youth from low-income communities and communities of​ color. Founded in​ 2003,​ LYVEF makes civic engagement relevant by meeting young people where they are,​ working on​ issues that affect their lives,​ and providing them with tools,​ training,​ and support to​ become viable players in​ the​ civic process.

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