If you didn’t make it to Florida A&M University’s quadrangle on Saturday morning to hear Michelle Obama and Jill Biden at the voter registration rally, you missed a blessing and history in the making.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain certainly help Republican candidate Sen. John McCain’s photo opportunities, but they’re no match for the wives of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate Sen. Joseph Biden.
Michelle Obama is a lawyer from Chicago’s Southside and Jill Biden is an English professor in Delaware. They’re also mothers, sisters and daughters who know how to keep it real.
Jill Biden said, “Too many times my students have to quit because they can’t afford tuition. My students can’t afford four more years of the same and neither can you.”
Michelle Obama shared that she and her husband left college with lots of debt. “The only reason we’re debt free is because Barack wrote two best-selling books,” she said. Regardless of your political affiliation, I encourage you to read Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams From My Father.”
Michelle Obama said her father, who lived with multiple sclerosis for years, “Never complained when things got tough. He’d just work a little harder.”
“Work a little harder” is a phrase that many of us need to hear and embrace. It’s embarrassing that 600,000 African-Americans aren’t registered to vote in Florida. That’s why I encourage anyone who’s reading this sentence and not registered to vote to get it done by the Oct. 6 deadline. Go to www.voteforchange.com for more details.
If you’re on FAMU’s campus, stop by the Set to see volunteers like Darianne Stubbs, a FAMU broadcast student, who helped register about 250 students on Friday.
As I wandered through Saturday’s crowd, I was encouraged by the students and others working on voter registration efforts.
“I can’t vote, but I’m still working in the campaign because I know America needs a change,” said Lennward McClyde, an Obama campaign volunteer and ex-felon who works in FAMU’s dining hall. He’s waiting on the clemency board to restore his voting rights after a burglary conviction.
Monique Gillum, former FAMU Student Government Association president who’s working for the Obama campaign, stressed the importance of exercising your voting rights. “There is no room to straddle the fence,” she said. “We can’t be spectators.”
Dorothy Bland is a professor and the director of the journalism division at FAMU.