Black & Brown Legislative days inspire civic engagement

AkerAjak

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Civic Duty • 31 girls share a smile as they engage in civic duty at the training. They participated in the 4th Annual Black and Brown Legislative Training Day. Photo courtesy of Abiola Kosoko.

Many students had the opportunity to attend the 4th Annual Black and Brown Legislative Training and Legislative Day on Feb. 13 and 27. The training consisted of multiple speakers talking to the students about Nebraska’s government and how to practice civic engagement. It started with a speed dating activity that senior Shruthi Kumar especially enjoyed.

“I really enjoyed the speed dating because I got to meet people from all around Nebraska that I haven’t met yet and it was super cool to talk to new people,” Kumar said.

There was an activity where groups of students would take a certain issue they felt impassioned about and explain how they would advocate for the cause via social media.

“My group’s topic was about toxic masculinity. Our group felt as if men aren’t allowed to embrace their emotions or be vulnerable or else they’re called weak. Men shouldn’t be judged for sharing their emotions and being who we are. We came with a hashtag called #TRUESELF,” senior Cori Davis said.

All these activities were set up to prepare the students for going down to the Capitol on Feb. 27. The students had the chance to listen in on a debate over the devastating floods in Nebraska last spring.

“It was very mind-opening and I felt that I learned a lot about how things operate when they have these debates. It seemed as if half the senators were very informed about the bill and the topic while others weren’t,” sophomore Isabel Soto said.

After the debate, these students were given the opportunity to ask two state senators, Senator Wayne and Vargas, questions about civic engagement and what it is like to be a person of color in the government. Wayne and Vargas are two of four people of color in the Nebraska Legislative Body.

The day concluded with the students choosing which committee they would like to sit in on. Junior Abul Mathok visited the Government Committee Hearing.

“The hearing was about whether or not to require citizens to have a Voter I.D. The senators lobbied against this being passed because it makes it harder for people to vote. I liked being able to listen to the opinions and reasons people gave. It was a great opportunity to be apart of and gain experience from, ” Mathok said.

Overall, the experience was very insightful to many students, including junior Omaima Lado. “I learned a lot about local government. I’ve always had an interest in public office. I liked this experience because it showed me what I could possibly be doing in the future,” Lado said.

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