Black voting rights are a point of emphasis in many southern states. Voter suppression is real and it takes real initiative to combat it.

Last week, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition's Free The Vote bus tour made a stop at Florida A&M University. The event was held with the specific goal of increasing voter registration for the local upcoming elections. 

One way to combat voter suppression is by making opportunities to register and renew more accessible to us all and Free The Vote does this by bringing the resources directly to the people

"[Our goal is to] help students get registered to vote within the county of Leon County and to share election information about early voting sites on campus and the community within the county," said  Monique Ducan-Jones, Outreach and early voting manager of Leon County Supervisor of Elections. 

According to Shenyah Rute, Deputy Director of Student Lobbying and a Junior year Business Administration student, the student body worked extremely hard to organize the event and it all paid off. 

"A lot of hard work, long nights, and dedication went into preparing for this event," said Rute. "A lot of communication between organizations. The pledge is for citizens to say that they will vote in upcoming elections."

Prior to Free The Vote's stop at FAMU, the tour visited Edward Waters University, Florida Memorial University, and Bethune-Cookman. To motivate more HBCU students to hit the polls, Rute adds that they've initiated friendly competition. 

"The initiative going on (like a campaign race) is to see which schools can get the most registration," shares Rute. "The school with the most voters registered will receive a monetary reward. I feel like if the initiative keeps getting pushed out then I'm pretty sure more schools across the country will want to participate and be a part of this great organization and event."

FAMU senior, Jalen McClees, says that the push for voting doesn't stop at this one event. 

"The Student Government Association itself is brainstorming and putting together different ideas to actually increase political posts on our campus."

JP Morgan Chase was a sponsor at the event and shared the purpose of their voting initiative and how they plan to combat voter suppression. 

"Our initiative is our $30 million commitment which is to go tour racial equities in the city and also to improve our drive to bring financial and health resources to all of our HBCUs," says Chaz Jordan, Associate of Office of Diversity and inclusion, Advancing Black Pathways Financial Health and Wealth creation at JPMorgan Chase & Co. "We definitely want to have an impact through student financial health by investing one-on-one, and to have an overall presence within the HBCU community. That’s definitely our initiative that we want to do with Chase."

Chase is taking it a step further by not only investing in voting but also the students' education. 

"As students come on the campus as freshmen and they become sophomores, we have our own Advancing Black Pathways fellowship program, which offers students a paid internship over the summer," Jordan shares. "No matter what the major is, whether it Is STEM or anything of that nature that ties into Chase, they have an internship that they can apply for."

For students who would like to help promote the program, they can follow Chase on social media and use the hashtag #B2TY to spread the message. 

Jaylan Rawlings (Jay.Peg), is a 4th year Graphic Design student at the illustrious Florida A&M University. He is also the founder of Jay.Peg. He is a photographer who helps people bring their visual ideas into reality. He is mostly known for his editorial style photography and strong imagination. Follow his works here on Instagram.