Personality: Bernice E. Travers

Spotlight on president of Richmond Crusade for Voters

8/11/2017, 11:30 a.m.
When Bernice E. Travers joined the Richmond Crusade for Voters in 1977, the election of a majority African-American Richmond City ...

Meet this week’s Personality and community activist, Bernice E. Travers.

Top volunteer position: President, Richmond Crusade for Voters.

Place of birth: Richmond.

Current residence: North Side Richmond.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Richmond, and master’s degree, Antioch University.

Family: Single.

Reason I got involved with the Crusade for Voters: The organization successfully mobilized the election of five African-Americans to Richmond City Council, which consequently created enthusiasm and hope for the city’s African-American community.

Number of women presidents before me: Four.

Crusade office before election: I chaired the Crusade’s Research Committee. The Research Committee interviewed candidates seeking election and re-election to public office and assessed their positions on relevant issues. The committee hosted candidate forums to educate and inform citizens.

The Crusade’s foremost mission is: To increase the voting strength of the African-American community and to mobilize voters to make their voices heard at the polls. This is the necessary means to effectively address the education, social and economic injustices hindering African-Americans.

How I plan to meet the Crusade’s biggest challenge: First, the Crusade’s Voter Education/Registration Team is establishing community collaborations to register and mobilize citizens to vote. Secondly, we have assembled a well-informed and engaged Research Committee consisting of former City Council and School Board members, educators, community leaders and social, economic and criminal justice advocates. The Research Committee is maintaining report cards on elected officials. We will stage town halls, rallies and forums to educate, inform and empower citizens. The Crusade will advertise candidates we endorse and distribute sample ballots at the polls.

Crusade then versus now: In its beginning, the Crusade for Voters became a powerful organization because of its effective community outreach. The Crusade organized neighborhoods, block by block, to register and educate voters on the power of the vote. The Crusade’s success also was a result of collaborations with the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, churches, businesses and social organizations to register people and get out the vote on Election Day. I hope to invigorate that collaboration between the Crusade and the community.

Current Crusade membership: Our 2017 paid membership is 61. Our Membership Committee and its chair have a progressive campaign to recruit new members and reactivate inactive members.

How the Crusade plans to increase membership: With membership drives, collaborations with organizations and by addressing the needs of the community such as the “Put Schools First” petition drive.

Impact of economics on politics in Richmond: Economics in the African-American community is dismal. Unemployment, poverty, the inability to start or finance a business and obtain government contracts are some of the barriers to improvement. These economic disparities discourage young black men and women from voting because they do not see where voting alleviates their problems or will better the lives of their children.

Definition of a leader: A good leader is a team builder who can motivate people to work collaboratively to create vision, establish and achieve goals.

What makes me tick: Challenges.

A perfect day is: Accomplishing everything on my to-do list.

A perfect evening: Being with family and friends at a stage performance, concert, symphony or play.

Nobody knows that I: Was a member of a Virginia governor’s delegation that visited Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, after the election of President Nelson Mandela in April 1994 and met with members of Mr. Mandela’s African National Congress. How I unwind: With relaxing music and a good book.

Biggest chance I ever took: Flying after 9/11.

The best thing my parents ever taught me was: Get it done and do your best.

Best late-night snack: Ice cream.

Person who influenced me the most: My grandmother, a wise, kind woman who inculcated in my kin and me that family and friends were special people that you helped and looked out for.

The book that influenced me the most: “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire.

The book I’m reading now: “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future” by Steve Case.

If I’ve learned one thing in life, it is: Nothing is forever.

Next goal: Writing, blogging and travel.