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Getting In On The Act

Getting In On The Act

On the second night of the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July, most of the country, and the world for that matter, was introduced to U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama of Illinois.  Following his speech, political pundits, journalists, Republicans, Democrats and Independents praised this “newcomer” to the national scene. Obama shared with the convention audience his story of being the product of a Kenya-born father and Kansas-born mother who gave him an African name, “Barack, or ‘blessed,’ believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success.” Continued Obama, “They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.” 
His personal story had wide appeal. By the end of that magical night for Obama, his speech was called “powerful,” “fantastic” and “dynamic,” and he was being called a “shoo-in” for the U.S. Senate, and a “rising star” in U.S. politics. “If he gets elected to the Senate, by 2012 he could have eight years under his belt. By 2016, he will be 54 — a good age for a president…” said a report by the BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation).
It is true that Barack Obama has a compelling story, and we wanted to feature him for many reasons. He might become the fifth Black U.S. senator in history, but he is also a professor.
Black Issues senior writer Ronald Roach got a timely opportunity to travel with Obama on a higher education tour throughout Illinois last month. In “Obama Rising,” Ronald further introduces you to the senate hopeful and his ideas about higher education.
In addition to Obama, the “younger” demographic may make headlines come November. Political scientists and campaign strategists are saying that if indeed young people get out to vote in large numbers, they could swing the election. To appeal to a younger generation of voters both presidential candidates have used their children —  the Bush twins, the Kerry daughters — to appeal to this demographic some say is “up for grabs.”
Hip-Hop moguls Russell Simmons and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs have their own get-out-the-vote campaigns underway. There’s “Rock the Vote,” “Rap the Vote” and the World Wrestling Federation’s “Smackdown the Vote!” P. Diddy and his fellow Hip-Hoppers are sporting “Vote or Die” T-shirts. Everyone is getting in on the act. As Black Issues correspondent Tracie Powell writes, “Suddenly, it’s cool to vote.” Because of the controversial presidential election in 2000, it’s no secret that many view this election as one of the most important in recent history. I don’t take issue with how or why some celebrities are more visible this election than in past. I just hope young voters, all voters, mobilize and get to the polls. But I guess we will all see to what degree the likes of Simmons’ and P. Diddy’s appeals resonated with their demographic come Nov. 2.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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