By Lizzy Tarallo
Over the past two years, Mackenzie Meadows, a junior studying international relations, has helped found American University’s chapter of Black Girls Vote. Black Girls Vote is a national, nonpartisan organization dedicated to educating women of all ethnic backgrounds about voting and politics. As president of the AU chapter, Meadows leads the organization by creating plans to inform women on campus about voter registration and how to become a leader on campus.
Meadows said that the largest issues impacting the U.S. today are COVID-19 and racial inequity. She said that racial inequity goes deeper than skin color; it also goes hand in hand with poverty and the coronavirus. For Meadows personally, she is being impacted the most by the coronavirus.
“While I’m already a young adult, we kind of had to grow up a little faster,” Meadows said, explaining that many college students, some of whom do not have good living situations at home, had to find jobs with a stable income in order to move back to campus and support themselves. Meadows, who is originally from Dallas, Texas, moved to Columbia Heights for the semester.
“While I was able to get by, I’m still trying to kind of go through and tackle these challenges and go through the motions of things I didn’t think I was going to have to go through until after I graduate,” Meadows said.
Meadows said she thinks AU has the ability to deal with issues that students are facing, but there needs to be communication between the administration and students. Meadows emphasized the importance of having ideological, physical and ethnic diversity among the University’s leaders and administration. She also said that student government leaders need to “practice what they preach.”
While Meadows will be casting a mail-in ballot for the presidential election, she said that voting is not the “end all be all.” Meadows’ advice is to vote for a presidential candidate that prioritizes some of the issues you care about, but she also said to understand that the president is not always “going to have your best interest.”
“The president of the United States doesn’t know what’s going on in Dallas, Texas,” Meadows said.
Meadows said that local politicians are the individuals that truly matter because they are the ones shaping citizens’ everyday lives. She also said that civic action such as protesting is another way to create change.
“I know we’re called Black Girls Vote, but our primary focus is voting is a step one to a bunch of other steps to be able to address certain issues,” Meadows said.