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Meeting ID: 96614819404; Password: VOTE

With the timely recognition of the 2020 National Black History Month Theme, “African Americans and the Vote” and the upcoming November election, the VAHC will sponsor a series of events this Fall to further educate students and the broader community on voter rights and the importance of civic engagement to bring about social change.  The year 2020 marks one hundred and fifty years since the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment barring voter discrimination on account of race and the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement.

This Town Hall event will serve as an opportunity to learn more about your rights and the importance of voting from officials that were elected by the people to serve in Central Florida.

Special Guest Panel Features:

• Judge Emerson Thompson (retired)
• State Attorney, Ninth District Circuit Court, Aramis Ayala
• Florida House Representative Rene Plasencia
• Orange County Clerk of Court Tiffany Russell Moore

Event Details

User Activity

The African Heritage Committee is to be commended for taking on this topic and for organizing this town hall. All four speakers were important people to bring to Valencia. All have had, or currently have, significant careers in public service, and for different reasons all were important people to listen to, to question and to challenge. Any one of these four people would have been a very valuable speaker just by herself of himself. The fact that you brought all four together at the same time speaks to your ability to organize these events. We appreciate that.

If I may add, the ability of Judge Thompson, State Attorney Ayala, and County Clerk Moore to speak to both racial justice issues and their own careers within a judicial system that too often makes victims of racial minorities was especially poignant, and important. They went beyond easy pronouncements, which they could have made, that our judicial system is all good, or all bad, but instead offered nuanced perspectives from their long experience within our community and as professionals within the judicial system. They made important points, and I was glad that your program had so many participants to listen to their words.

If I had one point of advice, it would be not to shut down questions, particularly to elected representatives such as Rep. Plasencia. You advertised your program as a town hall, which suggests that the format will be questions from the audience. Instead, the questions seemed to be written by your moderators, with no clear option for audience participation. Your questions for a member of the legislature were too easy, especially given that Rep. Plasencia has taken a position that favors the disenfranchisement of many racial and ethnic minorities. You missed an opportunity here to teach students to make their elected representatives accountable, especially when the issue is very much part of current public debate and when the person you invite is part of the decision-making on this topic. If you ask me, these town halls should be training students to ask hard questions, not to retreat from hard issues.

In any case, we appreciate your work. What you put together took time and effort to organize.

Mark McMeley
Humanities, Osceola