“I am somebody! Keep hope alive! Let’s go vote! Everybody scream!” were the words echoed by students Thursday evening.
Rev. Jesse Jackson drew a crowd to the new College of Pharmacy building as he informed Florida A&M University students about voting during his “Hope is on the Way” tour.
“From 1619-1865, the African American race was in legal slavery, there was a time when we were considered three-fifths of a person and lynching was a regular after church Sunday thing,” Jackson said.
“In 1965 our race was allowed the right to vote. [We had] 346 years of having no voice, and now we don’t want to go vote.”
Jackson’s main message was that the black vote could shift the election. He educated the audience of past barriers and problems in history that have plagued African Americans. He then encouraged students to become empowered.
Jackson said the black vote changes the character of America’s landscape. The atmosphere in the pharmacy building was silent and everyone seemed as if they were taking in every aspect of his speech.
“It’s was very important for me to come hear Rev. Jackson speak. I think the knowledge and history that Rev. Jackson spoke upon tonight should motivate everyone to go vote,” said Richard Marcus, 20, a Computer Information Systems student form Charlotte, N.C. Gertrude Merriweather, a former FAMU librarian, came to hear Jackson speak because he supported her through when she was one of three black women teaching in Alabama at a predominately white high school for the first time.
“He was very supportive of us, and I just wanted to thank him because a lot of African Americans lost their lives in Alabama due to their jobs,” Merriweather said.
When asked the question what scares him most if the Republicans win this election, Jackson replied that it would set back the work of the Supreme Court by 50 years.
At the end of Jackson’s speech, he emphasized students realize how much they would lose if they neglect to vote.
“Students have so much invested in this election and don’t even realize it. This election will affect tuition rates, scholarships, job availability after graduation and the ending of the war,” Jackson said.
Jackson said if students look at the status of America and how President George W. Bush said he wants to protect the United States from terrorism, it is obvious the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Jackson said Bush has left us with no allies.
“When you decide to come alive and choose future over funerals and hope over dope, you can change the dynamic of the playing field and shape our world. Go vote!” Jackson said.
Contact Keith Jones at Wiz0115@aol.com.