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FAMU Journalism Students Create HBCU Voter Guide

This article originally appeared on The Office of the Provost Newsletter on October 28, 2020

Mia UzzellSeveral students in Florida A&M University's (FAMU) School of the Journalism and Graphic Communication (SJGC) recently helped create the Voter Guide for HBCU Students for the ReNews Project. The guide includes voter information for key battleground states: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Wesley Wright, editor-in-chief, started the ReNews Project with other professional reporters and journalism nonprofits to expand student journalism opportunities at historically Black colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

SJGC students Kyla Hubbard, Aiyana Ishmael, Kailyn Rhone, Madeline Smith and Mia Uzzell served as reporters after Ishmael was encouraged to work on the guide. She later recruited her fellow student journalists to join the team.

"Young Black and brown students aren't allotted the information they need, so this voters' guide will help them in their election process," said Ishmael.

Uzzell agreed and also said the guide is an essential tool for HBCU students.

"Our schools are at the epicenter of voter suppression because we are located in urban neighborhoods. We witness first hand how the proverbial system meticulously stacks the odds against us," she said. " This guide allows us to navigate the inequities a little better and presents the crucial ballot measures in our voice."

According to Wright, HBCUs are less likely to have student journalism programs than predominantly white universities.

"Preparing information for a voter guide is a great public service that will assist voters during the 2020 highly anticipated presidential election," said Bettye Grable, Ph.D., interim dean for SJGC. "FAMU student reporters serve the public by providing this useful information much like the earliest known journalism news sheet, the ancient Roman Acta Diurna."

The Voter Guide for HBCU Students, comprised of more than 20 students from five HBCUs, helps provide essential professional development opportunities and reflects interests of the HBCU community in several states across the country.

"As an HBCU student, I both know and lean on the history of my university to navigate the world around me — especially the political realm. I know that oftentimes our voices are silenced in political discourse, so to be centered in this voter’s guide gave me all the more reason to participate," Uzzell said.