AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT: Makkah Beasley, Miami University
Makkah Beasley is a junior at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Makkah is passionate about mentoring teens and works on issues of equity for underresourced communities. Makkah has served as an AGF Vote Everywhere Ambassador at Miami for the 2014-2015 academic year.
What voting or civic engagement problem have you identified on campus?
If you asked an average student at Miami University at Oxford,”how do you register to vote? where do you vote?,” they would probably stare out into space suspended in awkward silence. Our school doesn’t offer a convenient package of content around voting. So in the first semester, we decided to make it easier for students to learn about voting.
What did your Vote Everywhere team do to solve the problem?
We setup voter registration drives at the Armstrong Student Center on campus and we also produced events related to Freedom Summer in order to spark passion and understanding the importance of voting. We discussed Freedom Summer via the documentary NESHOBAwhich delves into the story of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner and the court cases that followed the events of 1964. The story is especially relevant to Miami University and it’s students because our university was one of the places where Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Freedom Summer volunteers received training. We organized tours with students to the Freedom Summer Memorial on our western campus to learn more about the history of the event and to build the connection between freedom and voting rights.
How has The AGF helped prepare (i.e. training) and/or support your work?
The Andrew Goodman Foundation offers a multitude of training materials – everything from books, online resources, webinar sessions, and monthly hangouts with other Ambassadors around the country. The materials helped keep everything organized; also the contact with Nadia Hussain (Program Coordinator) and Sylvia Golbin-Goodman (Executive Director) was really great, because we always felt supported and apart of a larger community.
How does your Vote Everywhere team work with other campus groups?
We reach out to other groups that have an activism and/or civic engagement mission for the University to include in our projects. We also try to facilitate conversation between different groups via email and in meetings around how we might be able to work together.
What changed as a result of your initiative?
My span and reach has grown enough to where I feel that I can make an impact at my University. To be able to say that I have had a hand in getting more people to vote, makes me feel more empowered – it really reinforced the idea that I can actually can do something and make a difference.
What does it mean to Vote Everywhere?
No matter your race, gender, ability, socioeconomic status, or where you come from, you should be able to vote. Another meaning of Vote Everywhere is making it easier for college students to vote wherever they want – at school or in their home state.