AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT: Gabrielle Hickmon, Cornell University
Gabrielle Hickmon is a junior at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations with minors in Law and Society and Inequality Studies. Gabrielle is passionate about all things related to social justice, particularly racial and gender issues. Gabrielle has served as an AGF Vote Everywhere Ambassador at Cornell for the 2014-2015 academic year.
What voting or civic engagement problem have you identified on campus?
Many people on campus are unaware of (or unconcerned with) the #BlackLivesMatter movement at Cornell. Some students aren’t aware of the national movement and also have no idea about race relations at Cornell for students of color. So, the goal with this organizing was to address the lack of dialogue around the #BlackLivesMatter movement on our campus – to bring this national issue to the Cornell campus in a way that would connect and also give space for students of color to share their feelings or opinions.
What did your Vote Everywhere team do to solve the problem?
We held a die-in and a rally on our Ho Plaza (a central place on Cornell’s campus). We made sure the event was student facilitated and created a space that would allow people to express themselves while also honoring the movement and raising awareness.
How has The AGF helped prepare (i.e. training) and/or support your work?
The training materials through Midwest Academy (facilated by The AGF) gave me a pedagogy around organizing. It gave me a way of thinking intellectually about organizing and how to then take that knowledge and turn it into action.
How does your Vote Everywhere team work with other campus groups?
A group of 3-4 passionate black women on campus just decided to take action, however, we didn’t organize through any other formal campus group.
What changed as a result of your initiative?
There has been a good response on campus via articles in our school newspaper; some students have shared that our protest was the best that they’ve seen – and it was organized by just a few women. It’s been really encouraging to hear.
What does it mean to Vote Everywhere?
To Vote Everywhere is to go beyond the act of voting – it’s behaving in a way that’s ethical, just and responsible in your everyday activity and extending that to the way you engage within society (your work, community, etc.).