The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. Institution will develop and support community-based leaders addressing racial, social and economic issues in the South.

Last month, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) opened its new Clark Atlanta University (CAU) campus Southern Regional Office to help strengthen its work in the southern U.S.

“This institution will play a part in ensuring democracy thrives for all of us. That economic opportunity is there for all of us. That political empowerment is there for all of us and so much more,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the NCBCP. 

The NCBCP Thomas W. Dortch Jr. Institute for Leadership, Civic Engagement, Economic Empowerment and Social Justice is a hub for the organization to train future leaders on serving their communities and accumulate research on issues affecting African Americans, like voting rights, social and economic justice and civic engagement. 

Melanie Campbell, President of the NCBCP, and others pictured in front of the NCBCP Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. Institute for Leadership, Civic Engagement, Economic Empowerment & Social Justice & Southern Regional Office (Image provided by Allison Joyner)

“In the face of pervasive attacks on our rights, freedoms and democracy, the launch of the NCBCP Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. Institute are crucial steps toward countering racial and systemic assaults,” Campbel said. “We are bringing national and Southern state leaders together to strategize and plan for short- and long-term solutions. We are laser-focused on rebuilding hope, justice, equality and equity in Black America.”

Dedicated in honor of community leader Thomas “Tommy” Dortch, the institution’s mission is to amplify its civic education leadership development and community outreach work at his alma mater Clark Atlanta University and other Historically Black colleges and universities in the South. The new institution will be a crucial component of the Coalition’s justice, equity and equality initiatives. 

READ MORE: “Georgia says goodbye to its ‘servant leader’ Tommy Dortch.”

When Campbell discussed opening the institution with Dortch and CAU President Dr. George French in 2019, she envisioned a space that would provide experiential learning opportunities for young people and allow them to fellowship with others who want to make a difference at a local level. 

Dortched passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. Several portraits and pictures of its namesake are throughout the building. 

“Tommy was passionate about equity and social justice and had an unwavering dedication to fighting for the least among us to continue to inspire us today,” Campbell said. 

The institution, housed where Dortch received his Master’s in Criminal Justice Administration, will be a robust platform for building a pipeline of talent at CAU through its business administration, communications and political science programs. 

“[The Institution] is the essence of what we’re talking about,” French said. “We’re talking about doing the research. We’re talking about protecting our democracy like we never thought we would before. As president, I am proud to be a part of this historic moment.”

The NCBCP Thomas W. Dortch Institute for Leadership, Empowerment and Social Justice will also host events and roundtable discussions about Black women, encouraging young people to vote and collaborate with other organizations like the Andrew Young Emerging Leadership Institute and the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation. 

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