Voting and staying ‘woke’ is a duty, says Founders Day speaker


From Left to right, Dr. Patricia Lynch Stith, Angela Rye and President Melvin T. Stith attending the Founders Day Breakfast on Sept. 19, 2018. Photo by Marie Johnson

By Marie Johnson

Political commentator and strategist Angela Rye believes it’s important for African Americans and others to “not just be woke, but also to work woke.”

Being woke means to “be aware of the opportunities that you have as a generation and also as students,” Rye said in her remarks as the keynote speaker during Norfolk State University’s Founders Day Breakfast on Sept. 19.

“Take responsibility when voting and make sure to use your voice as the youth of America. It is our responsibility to create a better future for ourselves.”
Creating a better future includes getting a good education, said Rye, who, following her remarks before a sold-out audience, stressed the importance of student internships and other training programs that prepare students for life after college.

Rye, a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law, is CEO of Impact strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. For several years, she served as executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus. Rye also is a frequent commentator on programs at the MSNBC news network.

In her speech, Rye emphasized that millennials and the generation that succeeds it, commonly known as Gen Z, must continue to strive for civil and social rights that were “fought for by out ancestors.” Their most powerful tool, she added, is their right to vote.

With the approach of midterm elections, Rye urged NSU students to exercise their voting rights, noting that it is their duty to vote in order to ensure access to basics such as food, education, health care, income equality and other basics of life.

“The importance of voting is taking the power of your future and putting it in your own hands,” she said. “Too often, people say they stay away from politics because they do not like it or because they don’t see the importance of it.”