Tour aims to encourage black voters

The outcome of the 2000 presidential election made a lot of people, especially those from Florida, apathetic to voting. Some students even adopted a ” my-vote-doesn’t-count” attitude. So Justin Proctor, 23, created the “Promote the Vote … it’s not a JOKE” HBCU comedy tour.

The 10-city tour, which combines comedy, music and theatre, started in Los Angeles during the NBA All-Star weekend. It will be traveling to FAMU’s campus Tuesday.

The campaign will reach students through entertainment and then educate them about voting.

The first event at this stop, the luncheon, will be held at the president’s dining hall from 12 – 2 p.m.

“The luncheon is an opportunity for student leaders and staff to interact with the comedians and speakers on a more casual level,” Proctor said.

The senior political science student from Tallahassee is the chairperson and founder of the comedy tour.

“Our focus is voter education more than voter registration,” Proctor said.

The comedy show is the main event of the “Promote the Vote” campaign. It will feature Dave Chappelle of “Comedy Central”, one of the original Kings of Comedy, D.L. Hughley, “The Wayans Brother’s” Marlon Wayans and Lil’ JJ from BET’s “Coming to the Stage.”

The comedy show, which will take place in the Lee Hall Auditorium at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., derived from the theme- it’s not a joke.

Proctor said despite the comedy show, voting is not a laughing matter.

“We really want to get out there and literally promote the vote because it is not a joke,” he said.

Because “Promote the Vote” is a non-profit organization, its members had to search for sponsors.

“We reached out to corporate America and others who were very helpful,” Proctor said.

Universal Music, Southwest Airlines, Hewlett Packard and Political Organizations Committee are all sponsors.

Miriam Oliphant, the former supervisor of elections in Broward County, is a supporter and speaker of the tour.

Oliphant, who said she knew Proctor’s father, extended a helping hand toward the cause of the tour.

“I heard about it and I told him I would like to go out to speak to the students,” she said.

Oliphant, a FAMU alumna, launched a voter’s education demonstration outreach program that registered 26,000 students to vote during the project’s first year.

“I don’t think they realize that their votes count,” she said. “My motto is vote now or pay later.”

Oliphant said voter’s apathy is the product of a lack of education.

“We are reactionary, not proactive,” Oliphant said.

Funds raised from the tour will go toward scholarships, internships and new computers for HBCUs and its students.

Although the show is of some benefit some students said it will not compel students to vote.

“I don’t think the [comedy show] is effective,” said Ellen Fields, 19, a sophomore from St. Louis, Mo.

“I don’t see sarcasm and politics, unless it’s political comedy.”

Fields said she would see the show more as entertainment.

“Going to a comedy show will not make me go and vote.”

The tour will end around election time in November at Howard University.

Although the tour is full of fun and entertaining events, its overall purpose is to encourage students to vote.

Contact Diamond Washington at