Tanya Fogle educates students on voting rights among other issues during a February VIA event.
Photo Provided by Alex Baker

‘Change has to Come’: Fogle Visits Manchester with Message

Alex Baker

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, Tanya Fogle, co-chair of the Kentucky’s Poor People Campaign—A National Call for Moral Revival—visited Cordier auditorium for the Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Rededication ceremony. Although King is an inspiration to her, she believes that the U.S. has not dealt with oppressive racism adequately. She focused her time on stage sharing life-lessons.

Fogle is a Kentucky native who attended Kentucky University where she was the captain for the women’s basketball team. She faced some trouble throughout her collegiate career; she is a former felon. She did not provide much detail about her personal experience in prison; instead, Fogle talked about how she helps convicted felons from Kentucky since their voting rights have been taken away from them. “Not having people to have a voice at the polls is an injustice,” she said.

Justin C. Winterboer, senior business management and sales double major, appreciated the positivity of Fogle despite the challenges she has faced. “It was nice to hear what she is doing now, knowing that she once had a felon,” Winterboer said. “She found a way to still be successful and be able to apart of a cause as important as the Kentucky’s Poor People Campaign.”

Fogle’s main message was to try and influence the Manchester community to go vote in the upcoming elections. “Tell your grandma, brother, whoever,” she said. “To those that think their vote does not matter—yes it does”. She has been an advocate for voting injustice for 16 years in Kentucky. She wants those that are eligible voters to analyze the data/information and select candidates that they believe will make the biggest difference.

Not only did Fogle discuss her passion on the voting rights issues in Kentucky but she spoke about the organization she is a part of, the Kentucky’s Poor People Campaign—A National Call for Moral Revival. This campaign’s purpose is to fight for those that have dealt with unfair treatment through poverty, systematic racism, ecological devastation, militarism/war economy, and religious nationalism. On June 20, a march will take place in Washington D.C. regarding problems that the poor have to face unconditionally.

Caraline Feairheller, a peace studies intern, will be one of the marchers attending. In fact, she and the Peace Studies Institute brought Fogle to campus. “Manchester University has the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) Summer Internship program and I interned with the Jefferson County chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth,” Feairheller said. “During that summer, the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) was launching its movement through 40 days of nonviolent direct action and I was able to participate in some of those actions with the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign”. Feairheller informed fellow members of the Peace Studies Institute and they agreed that Fogle was the perfect speaker for the VIA regarding the remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.

Evan Harris, senior English major, shows his gratitude to Fogle for discussing such disputing problems. “Sometimes, I think it is rather hard to have conversations over the topics that Tanya presented,” Harris said. “There are many conflicting opinions, but also being a person of color, I understood her message on a much deeper level.”

Not only did Fogle speak with passion but she also sang. She invited audience members to stand with her and join in on the song “Somebody’s hurting my brother.” Not a whole lot of the crowd knew the song but clapped to the rhythm as if they did.

Anna Marie Lawrie, senior business management and sales double major, was amazed by Fogle’s presence. “I was not expecting her to start singing so proudly and confidently in front of the entire crowd,” Lawrie said. “It was very impressive how she interacted with the crowd.” Feairheller agreed, noting that the incorporation of music made the VIA even more special.

Opportunities to learn how to register for the vote will be coming to Manchester in a few weeks. Fogle was glad to hear that Manchester is taking such action. “There will be a combination of tabling at different events and trainings for those interested in learning more about the importance of voting and what it means to be an informed voter,” Feairheller said. “I encourage students to pay attention to the opportunities popping up in the next couple of weeks and reach out if there are any questions."