Rep. Bennie Thompson (left), Mississippi Democrat, speaks about Black male voting during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference in northwest D.C. on Sept. 13. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Republican Dan Bishop narrowly won Tuesday’s required re-election for a seat in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district – something which many political analysts believe gives a small boost toward Donald Trump’s efforts to successfully win a second term in the White House.

Virginia Harris pointed to this recent election to illustrate the importance of voting, particularly Black males.

“I was very disappointed in the North Carolina election. People did not show up to vote,” said Harris, president of 100 Black Women, Inc. “We do our very best educating, engaging and empowering young people to vote and then they don’t show up and cast a ballot.”

Harris and others spoke Friday about Black males’ importance but routine failure to vote during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 49th Annual Legislative Conference, held at the Washington Convention Center in Northwest.

According to the U.S. Census data, slightly more than 17,000 Blacks voted in the 2016 presidential election. In last year’s election, about 15,200 voted, a nearly 13 percent decrease.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), who led the discussion, explained the best way to institute change always come from voting.

“If you don’t engage [in] the process, then you let people get elected who might not have your best interest at heart,” he said. “In America, we don’t fight. We don’t have a coup. We go to the polls and vote. That’s what we must reiterate as we encourage our young men and young women.”

The talk became interactive when Damien Hooper-Campbell, 40, chief diversity officer for eBay in San Jose, asked young Black men in the room to share, “what’s on your mind?”

Instead of adults talking to them, three students from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) said some adults don’t respond to inquiries when they seek basic information.

In addition, the young men said some said adults “talk down” to them because they’re young and [presumably] cannot understand complex subjects.

“We’re on social media and at a place where we receive information 24 hours a day,” said Mason Holland, 17, a freshman studying political science at UCONN from Hackensack, New Jersey.
“Information is always coming at us and that’s how we retain it and it is not all bad.”

Desmond Taylor, 25, a 2016 Howard University graduate from Houston, said some of his peers must take the proper steps to introduce themselves to their elders including accepting constructive criticism.

Taylor, who does community service work for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, said young adults should be frustrated if they don’t receive a response when seeking internship, job, or other inquiries.

“Sometimes, [politicians] are overwhelmed. They’re human, too,” he said.

Non-millennials offered a suggestion for meeting with the young generation in their neighborhoods where they can better learn from social media.

“It’s about having that conversation and putting down that pride and saying, ‘we are better together,’” Hooper-Campbell said.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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