Originally published on 11/7/16 by www.NSBE.org
Hello, NSBE family.
I am writing to you today regarding one of the most pivotal elections in our nation’s history. As I travel around this country speaking with our members, it has become evidently clear that young black voters are not engaged during this election cycle. Many of our collegiate members are now eligible to vote for the first time in their lives, yet lack the motivation to do so. A common refrain being vocalized is, “The presidential candidates are not speaking to the issues that most concern us, so why should I be engaged in the electoral process?” If America’s history of voter suppression and the sacrifices of many to obtain and protect voting rights for all are not convincing enough, here are two other key reasons why I believe it is critical for our membership to turn out at the polls this Tuesday (if you haven’t voted already).
- A lack of young black voters turning out at the polls sends the wrong message to aspiring, young black politicians. Why should they be concerned with the needs of our community if we have little influence on their ability to attain and retain elected positions? We must become informed and engaged politically to enforce accountability and influence policy at the local, state and federal levels.
- The 2017 national budget includes $4 billion in mandatory spending and more than $3 billion in discretionary spending specifically earmarked for STEM education, across all of the federal agencies. Another $68 billion is allocated for non-defense R&D spending. If our members are focused on attaining a STEM education and becoming future professionals/entrepreneurs in this space, we should strongly consider candidates who understand the importance of STEM to this country’s vitality and stature in an increasingly global economy. More important, those same candidates must acknowledge the role of diversity, equity and inclusion in ensuring that all people have access to one of the highest-paying and fastest-growing sectors of our economy.
Toward this end, as national chair of this organization, I am charging you to exercise your right to vote. Do your research on all the positions and referendums on your local ballot. If you can pass calculus and thermodynamics, there is no excuse for showing up at the polls uninformed. Convince your fellow chapter members to do the same. Graduating 10K black engineers annually by 2025 is just a pipe dream without the support of policymakers at every level of government.
Once you have voted, take a photo, and share it using the hashtag #NSBEVotes on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. I look forward to the impact that NSBE will make on this and future elections.
Matthew C. Nelson
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
Phone: (703) 332-9532