Civic Engagement Among College-Aged Youth in Middle Tennessee

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Shotwell, Jessica
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
4 ABSTRACT This study examines social activism among young blacks in Middle Tennessee in the age of Black Lives Matter (BLM). Special attention is given to the participation of college-age young people, and their participation in high-risk activities such as protests and demonstrations. Drawing from the political context theory on youth civic engagement, I hypothesize that black college-aged students participate in high-risk civic engagement, and that this participation is influenced by the current Black Lives Matter movement. This study’s data includes a total of 210 surveys distributed on the campuses of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Tennessee State University (TSU), and Fisk University. Data are also drawn from secondary sources including local media stories of social activism among young blacks in Middle Tennessee. The results show that 45% of black students have participated in high-risk civic engagement, and over 75.6% report a likeliness to participate within the next year. The study focuses on the period from 2014-2017, which experienced an outburst of protests across the country, including Middle Tennessee, particularly focused on police accountability, criminal justice reform, and racial equity on college campuses.
civic engagement, black youth activism, campus protests