Jackson calls all to register and vote
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 20:11
Civil rights leader and Obama supporter the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited N. C. Central University Friday to rally students to vote early for the presidential election. Using his classic call-and-response interaction, Jackson had the audience repeat such affirmations as: “I am somebody. Respect me, protect me, never neglect me.” and “I can vote, I will vote, I must vote.”
Jackson summarized the history of the black suffrage movement, and the efforts he and many others put forth trying to free the South from segregation and unequal standards.
“In so many ways, I have struggled to make this a more perfect union,” said Jackson. “You have a burden to make a great nation greater.”
Jackson said the voter’s role of uncovering injustices and calling for them to be fixed is the role of the canary in the mine, or the truth-tester.
Jackson also paid homage to the deceased members of the civil rights movement. “We are a better nation today, made better by the martyrs,” said Jackson.
Jackson asked audience members to stand if they had any association with Pell grants, financial aid, relatives in jail or foreclosure.
Almost everyone stood for at least one of the associations he mentioned.
“There is no reason whatsoever for an NCCU student not to be registered to vote,” said Jackson.
Among Jackson’s specific reasons students should vote were Pell Grant preservation and the preservation of governmental affirmative action programs.
“[Affirmative Action] for blacks and women is not just a matter of equality, it is a matter of justice,” said Jackson. “We must be actively involved to protect our rights.”
Political science senior Jeron Hayes said the speech was great.
“You’re more likely to come out to vote if someone of importance is speaking,” said Hayes.
Senior Charlotte Jackson said that Jackson’s speech helped reinforce the significance of the upcoming election.
“This is one of the most important elections we are ever going to face,” Jackson said.
Belinda Jones, adjunct public health instructor, said it mattered that Jackson was both a political activist and a man of faith.
“Being a person of faith does not negate your responsibility to be an active participant in politics,” Jones said.
Mass communication department chair Charmaine McKissick-Melton said the speech was inspiring, and she hopes that students do not take the ability to vote lightly.
“We as a people have died for the right to vote,” said McKissick-Melton.