Fraternity motivates students to vote with registration program

Derrick Glass, Jr. Feb 2, 2024

On Jan. 30, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Delta Eta Chapter held a Voters Registration Table for students on campus. Photo Credit: Derrick Glass, Jr.

On Jan. 30, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Delta Eta Chapter held a Voters Registration Table for students on campus. President and Vice President of the chapter, Dwayne McGruder and Jasen Magee, led the campaign in King Frazier as the upcoming presidential election draws near.

McGruder believes that students should get out and vote as history displays the many hardships it took for this to be a reality. 

“It’s your voice,” stated McGruder, “a way to voice your opinion on who you think would make the best decisions for your community.” 

The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. is known for their involvement with voter rights in America.

In the 1930s, when Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. initiated the “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” (VPHP) National Program, African Americans were granted the right to vote. However, restrictions due to poll taxes, reprisal threats, and insufficient knowledge on the process of voting had limited minorities from true political access. Initially, this program was organized as a way to help black southerners overcome extensive pressure from whites at the polls in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Through the “Educational Adjustment Movement”, which later developed as “Education for Citizenship”, Blacks were enlightened in the areas of voting rights, limitations, additional issues minorities faced in American politics, and everlasting solutions.  In collaboration with 27 national organizations, the fraternity aided in the formation of the National Coordinating Committee. This helped to establish the Harrison-Black-Fletcher Bill, which was presented to the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress. 

With funding from the bill, the VPHP National Program was created to give disenfranchised Black Americans voting power at the ballots. In the 1940s, only 3% of eligible African-Americans in the South were registered to vote. By 1964, poll taxes became illegal in federal elections and banned completely in 1966. This development displays the effectiveness of the VPHP National Program, and its impact in Black History. According to a study by Pew Research Center, the number of eligible Black voters in the nation is estimated to amount to 34.4 million in November 2024.

As a way to nudge the campus community to the polls and continue the fraternity’s tradition, McGruder and chapter Vice President, Jasen Magee gave students an opportunity to become registered voters, learn how to change their voting address, and enhance their knowledge on taking political action. Students also earned STRIPES for participating at the table. According to McGruder, the chapter aims to host these types of events every semester. He further encourages people to not only vote at the presidential level, but in their specific jurisdictions as well. This will help to bring about change for those who feel it is needed in society.