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With only 46 days remaining until the 2012 Presidential Election, the excitement of the Howard community is building. The recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions dramatized the urgency of the impending election. Each convention and its speakers offered differing assessments of the state of America today, as well as contrasting visions for its future.  It seems obvious, yet bears repeating even now; that whatever side you agree or disagree with will be of no consequence if you do not take advantage of your hard-won right to vote.

Howard University students come from a tradition of civic involvement. Civil rights activist and Howard alumnus Stokely Carmichael, later known as Dr. Kwame Ture, spent much of his life engaged in the struggle to advance democracy in our nation. One of the issues he felt most strongly about was voter registration. While living in Lowndes County, Alabama in 1965, he made it his mission to help increase the number of registered black voters to better represent the predominantly black population of the area. That year, he lead the effort to increase the number of registered black voters from 70 to 2,600, which surpassed the number of white voters registered in the county by 300.

Similarly today, many of our student organizations are making it their mission to register and mobilize voters here on Howard’s campus and in surrounding communities. The Howard University Student Association (HUSA), Howard University Alumni Association (HUAA), the Howard University chapter of the NAACP, The Hilltop, and the Howard University chapter of the Children’s Defense Fund are some of the student and alumni organizations that have been diligently working on events and initiatives to get our campus active. Howard radio and television stations, WHUR and WHUT are also actively engaged in “Get Out the Vote” initiatives. 

As Election Day draws near, the importance of participating is made all the more powerful by modern media. Never in our country’s history have presidential candidates been more visible and accessible. The connectivity provided by modern technology in the forms of Internet, television, and social media allows voters to be quickly and easily informed on the issues and policies that will affect the quality of their lives, their families and their futures.

Leadership and active electoral and civic participation are at the core of Howard’s legacy and tradition. This means not just registering and voting yourself, but also doing all that you can to assist, and challenging others to do the same.