In 2008, young adults turned up at the polls in droves, many of whom were thrilled that their first vote would not only be a personal milestone but also would help the nation reach an historic one. President Obama is hoping that they’ll be there for him again this fall after what will undoubtedly be a tough road to re-election. Tuesday night his re-election campaign kicked off the HBCU portion of its “Greater Together” initiative to bring young voters back into the fold.
“In 2008 we saw an unprecedented number of African-American men and women put in countless hours to elect Barack Obama president of the United States,” said campaign manager Jim Messina. “We knew it was important to HBCUs early because they will play a pivotal role in mobilizing their networks and continuing to build this campaign both on and off campus.”
Tuesday’s event, held at North Carolina Central University, featured Messina, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and actress Gabrielle Union. Father and daughter duo Rep. G.K. Butterfield and Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, Obama for America’s National Youth Vote director, also participated in the event.
“Now more than ever, we need to be informed about who is making the decisions about our future. We need to take our rightful seat at the table and be more involved. We need to make sure our fellow students vote in local, state and national elections coming up in November,” said NCCU student body president Reggie McCrimmon. “Our engagement and excitement shouldn’t end here. Nor on Election Day. We must continue to come together as HBCUs and discuss how we can make our voices heard. So let’s make this summit only the beginning of how we make our campuses more engaged and active in this upcoming election.”
Over the next two weeks administration officials will host summits with students from historically Black colleges and universities in North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio and Florida.
“Like President Obama, I was raised to believe that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. …If you weren’t involved yesterday, you better be involved today. And today is the first step. Start having these conversations,” Union told approximately 1,000 attendees.
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(Photo: Christopher Dilts for Obama for America)