Commissioner Lee May addresses GPC Leadership Academy

11/17/2011
Contact: Roger Barnes
Phone: 678-891-2693
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Roger Barnes

Georgia Perimeter College Leadership Academy students say they are energized and ready to register and vote following a visit from DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May.
“Right now, I’m not registered,” says Leadership Academy student James Long, 19. “Listening to Commissioner May makes me want to vote. He said if you do not bother to vote you shouldn’t complain about the way things are going.”
Anthony Smith, 18, adds “I was always interested in politics so I’m getting ready.  I like when he advised that we shouldn’t look at the different parties but focus on the issues that matter to us and rally voters to vote on issues that serve the goal of bettering our lives.”
May, who represents DeKalb County District 5, paid his second visit this year to GPC’s Leadership Academy to help motivate students and get them excited about their upcoming voter registration drive.
GPC’s Leadership Academy was formed in 2005 to enhance the college experience and increase retention and graduation of African-American males.
“The Leadership Academy is the brainchild of faculty members at GPC who saw a need to increase the chances of success of black male students,” said Leadership Academy Program Coordinator Sarah Vaughn.  “Commissioner May came to speak with us because he’s one our civic partners and is helping us prepare for our voter drive.”
Vaughn said May has a commitment to the Leading by Serving project funded by a grant to the Leadership Academy through the African-American Male Initiative of the University System of Georgia. The Leading by Serving Project will culminate with the Leadership Academy members conducting a Voter Registration Drive next spring, she said.
In his meeting with the students in October, May stressed the importance of service. During his November visit, May encouraged students to understand and participate in the electoral process.
Being engaged politically is critically important, said May who told the students about the three tenants of civic participation as first introduced by civil rights leader Joseph Lowery.
“Part one is voter registration,” said May. “Second is voter education. You have to be able to address the issues. Ask yourself what you are not happy with. Read the newspaper and see what’s going on in DeKalb County.”
The third tenant is mobilization, May said. “What this means is being registered to vote, educated on the issues and actually getting out to vote. Now you’ve had a direct influence on the government in DeKalb County. Every vote does count.
“People like to blame my colleagues and me (for things that are not going well),” May told the students. “I ask, ‘What are you doing to change that?’ Because we live a democracy and you all are ‘the people.’ It’s your responsibility to dictate the direction of the county. You have to make sure you have someone in position to make the right decisions for you. I’m asking you all to commit to me that at every election you’re going to vote in that election.”
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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves more than 26,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.