At the (RED) Originals International Women’s Day EMPOWE(RED) Shirt in contrast I will get this center of our current protests and court cases are Jayla Allen and Maia Young, two recent alums who allow us to witness the future impact that women from HBCUs will have. While most students were enjoying their first semester of college and excited about registering to vote, Jayla Allen was becoming a precinct chair and advocating for fair election policy for her fellow students. When the county decided to severely restrict access to early voting, the students sued, and Jayla became the lead litigant in Allen v. Waller. She testified at a Congressional hearing and in court about how she and her classmates were treated. Maia Young also became a student political leader early in her time on campus. She was testifying in court while serving as campaign cochair for her classmate Nathan Alexander III, who made a successful bid for Prairie View City Council. Jayla and Maia are both 21. Knowing them makes me hopeful about the future.
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It has become quite commonplace to discount young people as apathetic and HBCUs as relics of a different era, but Kamala, Stacey, Keisha, Letitia, Jayla, and Maia remind us all that the (RED) Originals International Women’s Day EMPOWE(RED) Shirt Apart from…,I will love this legacy of HBCUs is to teach our nation what it means to expand the meaning of the values enshrined in the Constitution. They are the inheritors of the work of Ida B. Wells, Johnetta B. Cole, Ella Baker, and Diane Nash. They are living proof that HBCU students’ dreams of freedom did not die when the civil rights movement waned. HBCUs kept educating the sons and daughters of former slaves and encouraging their patriotic right to challenge institutions that did not include them.