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“Souls to the Polls” march re-enacts history to inspire students at FAMU to vote in the electionNovember 08, 2016
By: Jasmine Glover
The true spirit of voting history goes back to the time when African Americans were not allowed to vote.
“Souls to the Polls” was an effort to get the students on campus at Florida A&M University to cast their ballots.
The march was sponsored Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Chanting as they left the campus, the group of people walked to the Dr. B. L. Perry Branch Library on Sunday to inspire students to vote.
A crowd of more than 75 people had gathered at the eternal flame in the middle of the campus around 1 p.m. The chapter’s president Joanna Atkinson, a sophomore pre- physical therapy student, responded to a few questions about the event.
“My goal is to have a good number of students actually vote and participate in the movement,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said that the inspiration behind marching to one of the voting precincts in Tallahassee came from the history of African- Americans coming together and marching to the polls.
“Our predecessors used to gather after church and walk to the polls as a group- for protection, for the strength in numbers because we weren’t really allowed to vote.”
Approximately 10 minutes before the march began two young men -Reverend Stephen A. Green and Brendien M. Mitchell Jr. - stood in the middle of the crowd, starting chants to get everyone excited to vote. “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”
Rev. Green was asked how he felt about this year’s election he stated, “I am cautiously optimistic about this election. I think that it comes at a critical time in our nation’s history.”
Mitchell said, “We need young millennials to recognize that a protest vote is not a vote… We make it very clear that we have permanent interests. If you believe in your interests so much, then you have to be willing to vote and exercise that power so you have a seat at the table. If you are not at the table then you are on the menu.”
American civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson also came to Tallahassee to encourage the voters to cast their ballots early.
Marching lines of 10 began to form before the arrival of Dale R. Landry, President of the Tallahassee Branch of the NAACP, and FAMU’s President Larry Robinson.
Landry began with, “Do you all noticed what’s happening around you right? Have you seen the dark clouds? When the dark clouds form together what happens?” The crowd responded with, “We strike!”
The marchers used the sidewalk walking down MLK Street to Palmetto Street and turned left. On Adams Street police stopped traffic so they would be able to cross the street to B. L. Perry branch of the Leon County library to vote.