Hampton University


Actors Urge HU Students To Register to Vote in Virginia, and for Obama

Funny man Marlon Wayans and actress Jurnee Smollett brought a three fold message to Hampton University Sept. 12: Register to vote, register to vote in Virginia and vote for Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama.

Marlon Wayans

Marlon Wayans speaks to HU students.

Wayans, known for films like “White Chicks,” and “Scary Movie,” and Smollett, of “The Great Debaters,” passed the microphone between each other to voice their opinions on Obama, America’s first black male to secure a major party’s presidential nomination.

Raising minimum wage, increasing the Pell Grant (financial assistance given to college students with financial need), and tax breaks for college students were among the benefits of voting for Obama the pair mentioned, that roused applause from those in the HU Student Center.

Oct. 6 was the last day Virginians can register for the Nov. 4 election, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections. Wayans and Smollett encouraged students from out-of-state to register using their campus address, since Virginia is a swing state in this year’s election.

“Let’s make sure we get this brother in office,” Wayans said. “It’s not a black and white issue, it’s a red, white and blue issue.”

Marlon Wayans

Marlon Wayans and Jurnee
Smollett speak to HU students.

The actors were on a Barack Obama college tour that’s visited the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State and University of Richmond campuses.

HU Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Inman said the college tour promoting Barack Obama requested to appear in the Student Center, and in accordance with laws governing non-profit organizations, the University sent an invitation to visit campus to Senator John McCain’s campaign as well. However, the McCain campaign said they were unable to come that day.

HU Senior Class President and Virginia State Coordinator for Students for Barack Obama, Moses Wilson, led coordinating efforts for the actors’ HU visit. A registration booth was set up in the Student Center while Wayans and Smollett spoke.

Since freshman arrived last month, upperclassmen have helped more than 300 of them register, Wilson said.

“When you’re approaching people and they’re your age,” Wilson said, “you have that connection with them and they can take you seriously.”

Young people’s vote should also be taken seriously, Wilson said.

“The youth vote is the campaign’s secret weapon,” Wilson said. “They don’t poll students. They don’t call our cell phones. They call landlines. When we go out to vote … we will sway the vote in a way that’s never been seen before.”

-Leha Byrd