From left to right: President of SGA Danielle James, Dr. George White, retired professor Dr. Ron Daniels, President of NAACP Hazel Dukes and Professor Tom Moore. The panelists seated in tables at the Atrium answering questions from the audience. Photo credit: Adisa Sobers
By KeShaun Luckie
Hazel Dukes, the President of the New York State Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), visited York College for a panel discussion centered on the democratic republic of the United States on Nov. 1.
Just a few days before the 2018 Midterm elections, York College hosted a special panel to discuss whether the United States as a Republic is in a state of distress. The panel included Dukes, History Professor Dr. George White, Journalism Professor Thomas Moore and Danielle James, the president of the Student Government Association (SGA). It was moderated by Dr. Ron Daniels, a retired professor.
White said that the country is perilously close to another civil war and referenced the country’s first Civil War as evidence for his claims.
“We’re at a place in this country [philosophically] where we can’t agree on who is a human being,” White said. “Leading up to the American Civil War there was a debate whether people of African descent were actual human beings….Much of the struggle from the Confederate states was the rejection of that idea.”
Moore, on the other hand, declared himself an optimist despite the distress that the panel ensued about the Republic. “I think the First Amendment is pretty strong,” said Moore. “There is a struggle but I think the truth will win.”
On the then-upcoming elections, Dukes commented on the various ways that voter suppression occurs and the impact it has on the elections.
In Georgia, Brian Kemp the former State Secretary and current Republican governor-elect has established laws to restrict voter turnouts. Kemp removed inactive voters from poll sheets and enacted an “exact match” policy, allowing people to vote as long as the name on their provided identification matches their registered elections slips. New York is one of 13 states in the country that does not allow early voting.
“Moving a polling station that is in your neighborhood to somewhere miles away is voter suppression,” Dukes said. “Not allowing people to cast an early vote ballot is voter suppression. New York has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country, we should be allowed to have early voting.”
On another note, the panel discussed one of the main issues that may cause a high turnout in the elections, which was the rise of women’s representation as a result of the #metoo movement. The LA Times reported 270 women ran for seats in Congress and governorships. Of the 270 who ran, 124 women were elected.
“In order to tell a woman’s story, you need a woman to tell it,” said James, the president of SGA.
According to CNN, more than 60 percent of women voted in the midterms, compared to the 47 percent of men.
“Elections matter, elections have consequences,” said Daniels as he encouraged young voters to vote in the midterm election. “Ignorance is not bliss it’s catastrophic.”