HBCU Heroes (501c3), founded by NBA Veteran George Lynch, entrepreneur Tracey Pennywell & CNN/MSNBC political commentator Kwame Jackson, launched the Adopt-An-HBCU Good Trouble Voter Drive in celebration of the first-ever National Black Voter Registration Day on September 18th. In partnership with WNBA star & activist Renee Montgomery, co-founder of Remember the 3rd of November (501c3), and the Good Trouble campaign, the 6-week social media campaign will feature a line-up of celebrity Historically Black College & University (HBCU) alum and supporters educating HBCU students about their voting rights and encouraging them to register to vote ahead of election day at http://www.hbcuheroes.org/vote/.
The Adopt-An-HBCU Good Trouble Voter Drive was born out of the partnership between HBCU Heroes and the Good Trouble campaign, which was launched by Participant, Magnolia Pictures, and Color Farm Media to encourage audiences to support voting rights and participate in civic engagement actions that empower disenfranchised communities to fully participate in our democracy. Throughout the campaign, which will run from September 18th through Election Day, celebrities will “adopt” an HBCU and share personalized, informative messages with the goal of increasing HBCU voter participation in the November election. Celebrities participating in the drive include D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy, Spelman alum Shaun Robinson (host/90 Day Fiance’), Akbar Gbajabiamila (co-host/American Ninja Warrior), Fox Sports analyst Chris Broussard, and comedienne Kym Whitley, alumni of Fisk University. Color Farm Media was co-founded by actress and Good Trouble film producer, Erika Alexander, who is excited to adopt HBCU Voorhees College for this voter drive.
Tracey Pennywell, the ringleader of Adopt-An-HBCU Good Trouble Voter Drive, coordinated a consortium of organizations and media partners to lend support, including Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote, Rock The Vote, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Magnolia Films, Participant, Color Farm Media, Wasserman, Innocean USA, Gourmet Services, Inc., HBCUGoTV, HBCU Gameday, Black College Sports Network, and more.
Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) had the single largest decline among demographics in voter participation in the 2016 presidential election, according to a Tufts University study*. That’s why NBA players Rob Covington (Rockets) & Kyle O’Quinn (Sixers) are pledging their support. Their impact is vital as the only two HBCU-turned-NBA-players currently in the league.
Other pro and veteran athletes supporting include Shannon Sharpe (HBCU alum/Savannah State), Atlanta Falcons NFL veterans Michael Vick & Alge Crumpler, NBA veteran Etan Thomas, Everson Walls (Grambling alum), Tyrone Poole (Fort Valley State alum), Hugh Douglas (Central State alum), and Tarik Cohen, an alum of HBCU North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, also a current NFL player for the Chicago Bears. “I’m honored to arm HBCU students with a plan to vote, whether they’re away from home or distance-learning at home,” said Renee Montgomery. “This campaign is about empowerment,
education, and engagement. The WNBA, NBA, NFL, HBCUs, and our partner organizations are all in this together. We’re making good trouble,” Her parents and one of her sisters graduated from HBCUs. Montgomery is adopting Morris Brown College in Atlanta, also home to her WNBA team, the Dream.
A list of participating HBCUs include (but not limited to) Grambling, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Spelman, Morehouse (via the Identity, Art & Democracy Lab), Fisk, Paul Quinn College, Savannah State, Lincoln (PA), Fort Valley State, Voorhees, Morris Brown, Florida Memorial, Wilberforce, Fayetteville State, Central State (OH), and many more.
“For 30 years, Rock the Vote has worked to build the political power of young people,” said Carolyn DeWitt, president and executive director of Rock the Vote. “We are thrilled to partner with HBCU Heroes and support their work to turn out the HBCU vote in November,” “HBCU students have incredible power to determine the direction of our country and our communities. And, we must fight fiercely to protect that power and the right to vote, while empowering students with information and resources to make their voices heard in our democracy.”
“We’re in. Our Quinnites, students, and faculty all understand this tremendous opportunity for HBCUs in arguably the biggest election of our lifetime,” said Dr. Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College. “We’re proud to do our part.” Dr. Sorrell’s adopt-team includes the Dallas chapter of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA).
Melinda Arons, senior vice president of Social Impact at Participant, praised this effort for unifying sports and entertainment to propel voter participation among college students as “an incredible opportunity to further the legacy of civil rights icon John Lewis by making sure this generation can use its voice at the ballot box.” Participant, which was instrumental in integrating HBCU Heroes as an impact partner for the film, John Lewis: Good Trouble, is spearheading their support to raise awareness and visibility for the digital campaign.
“I’ve been making trouble all my life and now I’m doing it for a good cause,” said D.L. Hughley, comic, radio show host, and NY Times best-selling author. “Working with this group of celebrities, athletes, and organizations to amplify HBCU voter participation is an honor.” Hughley is adopting Lincoln University (PA).