Today, Black Voters Matter (BVM) announced the “Take the Field” Challenge, a new campaign that seeks to inspire, train and engage Black college students in acts of civil disobedience that can lead to real influence on campus and in their larger community. The name, a nod to the popular refrain “taking the field” or “getting in the game,” is often used during homecoming season, which starts this month, and is a way for students to build community.
The campaign is primarily focused on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and will empower students to take up issues such as voting rights, campaign finance reform, and the elimination of student debt on college campuses nationwide. In doing so, it taps into a rich tradition of student activism, particularly at HBCUs, which famously led protests during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the anti-war movement of the 1970s, and the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s.
As part of the challenge, BVM has also announced a $25,000 Take the Field Fund, which will provide 50 grants of up to $500 to student groups. These grants will support individual Take the Field actions at colleges and universities across the country, which might include campus rallies to draw attention to voter suppression or sit-ins asking college administrators to divest from companies that don’t have Black voters’ best interest at heart. Students are invited to sign up to learn more and should plan to join a capacity-building training hosted by BVM and partners to receive funding.
“This homecoming season, we’re urging student activists to Take the Field for voting rights,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. “College students have been at the forefront of progressive policy change for decades; some of the most powerful and consequential protests in our nation’s history took place on college campuses. We’re proud to launch this campaign with our local, national, and university partners — particularly at HBCUs — to continue that rich tradition and inspire another generation of freedom fighters.”
“The Take the Field campaign is not just about building Black power; it’s about building youth power, as well,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. “College campuses, particularly HBCUs, are anchor institutions within our community. As we seek to transform and advance our vision for the Black community we believe that college students are a core constituency group to make this happen. With this campaign, we are empowering our young people to speak up, start a national dialogue about the issues impacting them, and begin building the nation they want to see.”
Take the Field is part of BVM’s mission to expand Black voter engagement and increase progressive power, starting at the grassroots level. The campaign will include capacity-building training for student teams to provide guidance on what campus activism can look like and how best to prepare.
BVM will also provide promotional support for individual Take the Field actions to boost engagement and lift up campus calls to action.
This campaign follows Black Voters Matter’s hugely successful We Got The Power campaign to build Black voting power across the U.S. and drive unprecedented Black voter turnout in the leadup to the 2020 election. This summer, BVM also led a Freedom Ride for Voting Rights across 12 southern states to raise awareness about state-level voter suppression efforts, build support for federal voting rights legislation, and advocate for D.C. statehood.
APPLY & LEARN MORE: To learn more about the campaign and upcoming trainings, sign up here. Attending a training is mandatory to receive funding.The application for grant funding is available here. Deadline for submission is October 31. Grantees will be announced in the coming weeks and highlighted on the Take the Field web page: https://blackvotersmatterfund.org/take-the-field/.