North Jersey Alumnae Makes Social Action a Priority
Submitted by Jo-Ann Raines
The year 2020 presented challenges and opportunities for the sisterhood to support the National Social Action Commission in its mission to educate Black voters, register them to vote, and increase political awareness and involvement across age levels. North Jersey Alumnae Chapter’s (NJAC) Social Action Committee, with the guidance of co-chairs Aarin Williams and Ameenah Poole, built and executed a multi-faceted campaign to impact our service area.
An effective tool devised by the committee and in use since September was the National Voter Action Toolkit, a unique resource for use by citizens, students, educators, and activists. The toolkit included a spectrum of topics and links that connected users to voter registration information, voting sites, classroom activities, documentaries, and voter apps and provided social media posts and virtual photo booth frame. Accessible by Google drive and QR code, the toolkit was shared during all NJAC community events, notably each day of the chapter’s Virtual College Fair on Oct. 5-8, which was attended by nearly 250 participants, with various stakeholders, community groups, local high school administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and social workers at local drive-in movie theatres, grocery stores, community colleges and the like. Two QR codes were created to allow for touchless voter registration and Census completion. The chapter partnered with the City of Newark who shared the codes and they were accessed more than 500 times before Election Day. Using coalition building with East Orange and Newark schools, NJAC Social Action aimed at National Voter Registration Day on Sep. 22 and provided training and voter registration information with emphasis on online voting and how to access and use the Toolkit.
With much attention focused on the national election, NJAC Social Action also kept the senatorial election in Georgia in its sights. The chapter took part in a texting campaign facilitated by Fair Count on Nov. 18, spearheaded by sorority members in Georgia Alumnae Chapters, reminding voters to go to the polls between December 14th and January 5th. NJAC chapter members also mailed reminder postcards to Georgia residents through the efforts of Flip the West.
Networking has played an integral role in the chapter’s outreach, especially in reaching out to where our community members live. In a targeted attempt to engage in community conversations about social action and politics the chapter created Social Action Networking events. NJAC’s first event in 2019 was held in a community center and focused on immigration policy and how these policies impact the Black and Brown communities (video accessible here). The second was held in a barbershop and focused on the upcoming election and Census (videos accessible here and here).
As the world responded to the global pandemic, so did NJAC. They held a virtual event focused on important but overlooked school board elections and recognizing voting as radical self-care (video accessible here). This Sorority year, in October 2020, the chapter reinvented its once in-person barbershop and beauty salon series to be virtual, holding the events as a live-streaming webinar. They incentivized participation by Black businesses by providing them with advanced goodie bags for their patrons filled with gourmet goodies, as well as voter education and registration information. The event sold out (100 spots) in two days; 89 attended. The Masks Off panel included representatives from education, municipal government, healthcare, and the ACLU-NJ and to maintain the goal of making social action fun and engaging we had a DJ begin the event. The event is viewable here.
NJAC also issued three public service announcements encouraging the community to recognize the “power of our vote” and the new online registration process. The chapter collaborated with the Newark NAACP and men of Upsilon Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (video accessible here), and NFL players Malcolm Jenkins (video accessible here) and Kemokou Touray (video accessible here). Calling on the strolling tradition, the Social Action Committee in conjunction with the chapter Infrared Divas team produced a video titled “Stroll to the Polls,” featuring 10 chapter dolls, divas, and dears, including NJAC President Dorita Newsome-Dobbins. The video was an incentive to get out the vote and was posted on chapter social media outlets. The video was viewed cumulatively more than 1,000 times throughout various social media outlets (video accessible here).
Submitted by Jo-Ann Raines The year 2020 presented challenges and opportunities for the sisterhood to support the National Social Action Commission in its mission to educate Black voters, register them to vote, and increase political awareness and involvement across age levels. North Jersey Alumnae Chapter’s (NJAC) Social Action Committee, with the guidance of co-chairs Aarin …