UM fraternity to host presidential forum

If voters are still unclear about where Senators Barack Obama and John McCain stand on the issues, a further explanation is forthcoming.

The Mu Psi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and the Alabama Democratic Conference will host a presidential forum Oct. 13 at 6 p.m., at the University of Montevallo’s Comer Auditorium. The forum is open to everyone.

Scheduled speakers include U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, State Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, and Natalie Davis, professor of political science and pre-law advisor at Birmingham-Southern College. The speakers will entertain questions from the audience.

Rep. Davis, who seconded Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, will speak on behalf of the Illinois senator while Rep. Ward, a McCain delegate at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., will speak on behalf of the Arizona senator.

“The purpose of this forum is to educate the general public on each party’s perspective of what this presidential election means to our country,” said Cedric J. Burden, Alpha Phi Alpha president.

The forum is an initiative of Alpha Phi Alpha’s national program, “A Voteless People Is a Hopeless People.”

Burden said the fraternity started the program during the 1930s, a time when many African-Americans had the right to vote, but were prevented from voting due to poll taxes, threats of reprisal and lack of education about the voting process.

Burden said voter education and registration have remained a dominant focus of the fraternity’s outreach efforts for more than 65 years.

During the 1990s, the fraternity shifted its efforts to include political awareness and empowerment by hosting town meetings and candidate forums.

For more information, call 541-3358.