The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


    Sharpton rallies DU students to get out the vote

    Rev. Al Sharpton made a surprise visit to Dillard’s campus on Oct. 19 at the Lawless Memorial Chapel, as part of a nationwide tour Democratic leaders are making to urge young people to get out and vote on Nov. 2.

    The unsuccessful presidential candidate told students, “It’s bad to be down, it’s worse to be comfortable. Even if you’re not responsible for being down, you’re responsible for bringing yourself up.”

    In an effort to inform Dillard students of their voting responsibilities of young African Americans, Sharpton preached about many issues that are rising in the African American community.

    The presentation began with Rep. William J. Jefferson D-La., who expressed his admiration for senior Brandon Bowers, president of the Student Government Association, describing Bowers as the “biggest man on Dillard’s campus right now.”

    Jefferson, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, then voiced his deep concerns for health care, the economy and education, and their consequential impacts these issues have on the black community.

    Jefferson said that such issues are a major focus on Sharpton’s agenda, and young African Americans should take advantage of the opportunity to vote.

    “I want to get their attention, let them know they matter and help them realize how important they are to the election,” said Jefferson.

    Sharpton does not simply “talk good,” Jefferson added, but has a passionate message for the future generations concerning heritage and responsibility.

    “If you don’t understand where you come from, you’ll never know where you are, and you can’t ever figure out where you’re going,” said Sharpton.

    Sharpton presented Dillard students with two options in order to provide change-make an impact on the world and learn to achieve, despite the fact that the world often seems to be against them.

    “We could surrender and we could say well the world ain’t fair. We’re black, therefore, we’re suppose to be ignorant and lazy and do nothing,” Sharpton said. “Or we can say I’m going to try and achieve whatever I can no matter what odds are against us.”

    Achieving against the odds, Sharpton said, begins with realizing black people are not “hoes, bitches and niggas” and by choosing not to celebrate ignorance.

    Sharpton reminisced on the songs of his day that advocated black pride and achievement, but called today’s music disrespectful to women and a submission to the stereotypes of the black race.

    “We gain nothing by trying to be what others want us to be,” he said.

    Sharpton, a longtime rights advocate, said he believes that if half of the 3 million new voters participate in this year’s election, they can choose the next president who’s platform adheres to their needs.

    Sharpton’s main purpose in the presidential election was to bring up important issues the other presidential candidates overlooked, he said.

    “Whether I won or loss I knew I would win if I made them pay attention to things they wanted to ignore,” he said.

    Growing up in the hood, Sharpton said he did not have access to the same opportunities as his opponents, therefore realizing he had to be stronger in order to be taken seriously as a candidate.
    Sharpton touted his support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, but made it clear that he was not at Dillard to campaign for Kerry. He just plans to vote for him.

    On Kerry’s opponent, President George W. Bush, Sharpton said Bush is playing a “shell game” with America by not answering the nation’s questions on such issues as Iraq. He also said that too much time was being spent discussing irrelevant issues like same-sex marriages and civil unions, while more pressing matters like the economy were more relevant to most of the population.

    After questioning students about the number of people they knew in need of health care and a good education, many hands were raised. However, when the question was raised about how many students knew any same-sex couples getting married, the response was tame.

    “Why are they talking about same-sex marriages and not the issues that affect us,” said Sharpton.
    Many students said they were motivated after hearing Sharpton’s message, especially the Jubilee Scholars, as Sharpton spoke during their Tuesday chapel session.

    “It was very inspirational and it was encouraging to know all of the information presented,” said Sherrell Weathersby, a freshman mass communication major.

    Although some students like Noel Hathman may not be eligible to vote, they still understand the importance of voting.

    Hathman, a freshman biology/pre-med major said, “I am definitely going to vote the next time.”

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    Sharpton rallies DU students to get out the vote