/Voter awareness initiative culminates in downtown Jackson art gallery

Voter awareness initiative culminates in downtown Jackson art gallery

Nonprofit Mississippi News What would a mural that represents your hometown look like if you were an artist? As part of a contest to encourage creativity and engage children in the electoral process, the secretary of state’s Office asked classrooms throughout the state to respond to the prompt. The gallery at Jackson State University’s Capitol Street Building showcased 47 of the winning pieces. These were just a few of the thousands of entries for the “Promote the Vote” contest. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said, “We asked them how they saw your city and what you see Mississippi as in the future.” Hosemann stated that he had always believed that the most important decisions about the future were made at home. He told students that he traveled all over the state and asked them to ask their mamas who they’d vote for. Ask your dad who he is voting for. Make sure they vote. Then, discuss with them. If you disagree with them tell them why. “I believe that the country lacks a lot of political discourse. I believed that the sooner we started, the better we would be as a nation. These young people won’t vote for me. They will vote for someone, and that’s very important.” The exhibit, which will be at 101 W. Capitol Street through May 31, features artwork from students in K-12 schools across the state. Students were also encouraged to submit business ideas for their communities in the essay portion of the contest. Brandi Knott, senior graphic designer at JSU, stated that displaying art in galleries shows that people have a voice and are valued. “We want our young people to know that we value them, and we want them incorporate their hobbies and interests into the artistic field so that they will know that there is a future in something that they love.” This was the first year in 22 years that the secretary-of-state partnered with JSU’s education arm and Mississippi Public Broadcasting. MPB hosted mock elections last year during the U.S. Congressional elections. Carthage Christian Academy and Pearl Upper Elementary were awarded prizes for “Best Mock Election Precinct”. Ronnie Agnew (Executive Director of MPB) said, “I applaud secretary of state’s offices for organizing this effort with schools emphasizing importance of voting.” It will be a good idea to reach our children while they still are children. “I hope all the participants in this program have conveyed to our children that voting is a right they simply must exercise through this program.” The 2019 edition will feature mock elections for the Governor’s Race. Individual prizes included $100, $75, $50, and free entry to both the Mississippi Museum of History (Mississippi Civil Rights Museum) for the first place winner. Teachers were also awarded $50 for each entry to help support their classrooms. “Promote the Vote”, which was initiated by Eric Clark, then Secretary of State, began in 1996. More than 320 schools participated and 70,000 students took part in the campaign. Roosevelt Shelton, Interim Dean of JSU College of Public Service, stated that the arts are essential to understanding human behavior. The arts are modes for communication. It allows everyone, every human being, to express themselves. It is crucial to let those who are not as articulate verbally have a chance at that expression. It is crucial to reveal that expression to both children and adults, as we ultimately want to empower the franchise. It is a noble goal. And we’re not talking politics we’re talking civic responsibility.”