HBCUs as Justice Incubators: Prairie View and the Fight for Voter Access

11.09 – Melanye Price twt

Wednesday, November 9 | 12:00 – 1:30pm PT
Hybrid: Latinx Research Center | 2547 Channing Way, Berkeley
& Zoom Webinar | Register here (free)

Melanye Price
Endowed Professor of Political Science, Prairie View A&M University 

Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
Co-sponsored by: Institute of Governmental Studies, Department of African American Studies, Department of Political Science

Light refreshments served following the event


The passage of the 26th Amendment six years after the Voting Rights Act opened the door for students at HBCUs, particularly those in rural communities, to leverage their numbers into localized political power. Previously, black students were a boost to local economies but posed no real political threat because of voting prohibitions. Local governments reacted with voter suppression tactics and students who learned to organize and agitate during the civil rights era were now called into service to protect their voting access. Despite prevailing beliefs about youth apathy, students at HBCUs offer an alternative narrative that is not well documented. This project seeks to capture this history, especially while many of the most recent participants are still able to share their recollections.

The experiences of students at Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU) exemplify this fight waged by HBCU students against voter suppression. PVAMU students can constitute at least 40% of all registered voters in Waller County, Texas, which gives them the power to shape its leadership. PVAMU students have been involved in a five decade fight that has included failed indictments, civil rights litigation, and political protests. This lecture will be a discussion of this fight and what it means for the future of American democracy.


Melanye Price is a Special Assistant to the President of Prairie View A&M University and inaugural director of The Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice. Dr. Price holds an Endowed Professor of Political Science and serves as the principal investigator for the PVAMU African American Studies Initiative, which is funded by the Mellon Foundation. Price is the author of two books: The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race (NYU, 2016) and Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion (NYU, 2009).
Dr. Price completed her B.A. magna cum laude in geography at Prairie View A&M University and her MA and PhD in political science at The Ohio State University. Price was the 2017 Black History Month lecturer for the US Embassy in Germany where she lectured at universities and community organizations across the country. Professor Price was one of the contributors to Stanley Nelson’s documentary, Obama: Through the Fire, which aired on BET. She is a regular contributor for The New York Times Opinion section and has also done political commentary for MSNBCCNNMs. MagazineElle Magazine and National Public Radio.