“Rock the Vote” hits FAMU Campus

Republicans might control the Florida Legislature, but the Democratic Party has taken steps to cut their vantage.

The Florida Democratic Party kicked off its statewide Donkey Rock tour on FAMU’s campus Monday. The purpose of the tour is to promote voting and encourage students to register to vote.

The event, which took place on the Set, was the first of many such rallies and press conferences geared to educate students on the voting process.

“We want to reach out into the community, register as many students as possible and let them know that we (Democratic Party) will continue to stand up and fight for student issues,” said Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, Scott Maddox.

Maddox, the former Mayor of Tallahassee, said he hopes students will not only register but also become excited about the upcoming elections.

“I think that what we have to do is to let students know that the Democratic Party is for them, and that we need their help in 2004,” Maddox said. “When I was a young Democrat on the campus of Florida State, I never heard from the Democratic Party.”

Among those in attendance were current Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, Leon County Commissioner At-Large Cliff Thaell, as well as State Rep. Loranne Ausley. They all stressed the importance of the student vote in the 2004 presidential elections, and encouraged students to let their voices be heard.

“Student activism was key in the last city elections,” Marks said. ” Not only is it your responsibility and duty to register to vote, but it is also your right to vote.

“In the next election, you [students] can really make a difference.”

Malcolm Glover, president of the FAMU Chapter of the College Democrats and volunteer with the Donkey Rock Tour, said the FDP and the College Democrats felt it necessary to “Rock the Vote” early.

“Doing it early can assure that students will be able to vote when 2004 comes,” said the 20-year-old, junior broadcast journalism student from Bowie, Md. “Besides getting students registered to vote, we wanted to show that the Democratic Party cares and that we are working at the grassroots level to promote the vote, whether it’s local, state or national elections.”

The Democrat’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Freshmen Quanitra Thurston said the rally was beneficial in getting the word out to students to vote.

“I think the Democrats are doing pretty good,” the 18-year-old criminal justice student from Key West said. “The message really got through because a lot of people have come out to register; even I registered, and I’m just a freshman.”

The tour will stop at 11 public universities and seven colleges throughout the state within the next 8 days. Today, the Donkey Rock Tour will stop at the University of North Florida and Edward Waters College, both in Jacksonville.

“We really need the help and support of the students in order to bring the Democratic Party back to its pinnacle success,” Commissioner Cliff Thaell said at the rally. “Just like FAMU, the Democratic Party is going to strike and strike and strike again.”

DeAnna L. Carpenter can be reached at deannalynette@hotmail.com