“Fired up, and ready to go,” that was the call and response chant led by Tatyana Ali at the Mt. Airy Artz and Groove Festival Saturday.
The actress, best known for her work alongside Philly’s own Will Smith in the 90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” stopped by the festival to rally voters in support of Democrat President Barrack Obama.
The largely African American group of campaign volunteers and supporters gathered for a day filled with music, street vendors and Obama love, in an effort to reignite the grassroots movement that drove Senator Obama into the White House in 2008. Obama may have his work cut out for him in other parts of the city, but it seems residents of Mt. Airy are ready to grant him a second term.
“I know a lot of thing’s he wasn’t able to get done, but he tried to get done. I would like to give him four more years” said Organizing for America volunteer Maxine Sigler.
“Obama is my President and I want to make sure he gets it again,” said volunteer Rosamond Chamberlain.
New voter I.D. law poses challenges
The issue of the day, raising awareness about Pennsylvania’s new voter I.D. law, which requires voters to show an ID before casting a ballot– an issue Ali addressed with the crowd, “There have been a lot of changes in the voting laws and we have to make sure we win despite the technicalities.” Democrats have criticized the voter I.D. law as an attempt by Republicans to keep lower-income residents from voting.
A Harvard graduate, Ali also worked for the Obama campaign four years ago and says she still supports the President because he has made good on his campaign promises.
“I went to a lot of colleges and we talked about the Pell Grant and how Obama wanted to save the Pell Grant and he didn’t just do that he doubled the funding,” she says. “He talked about healthcare, made healthcare reform, repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. These are things that a lot of other people have tried to do and he got it done.”
Support for the President was so strong, it could easily be forgotten that his reelection is anything but a sure shot. Most national polls have the President and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a virtual tie and many Americans question the President’s handling of the economy.
Ali says she still thinks Democrats have the better plan, “It’s shortsighted not to see why the economy is the way it is and what policies brought us to that point, and somebody like Mitt Romney is going to do the exact same thing that was done in the Bush years and we will end up in worse shape than we are now.”
Volunteers also helped register new voters.
West Oak Lane artist Jeffrey Glenn Reese, says he looks forward to pulling the lever for the first time in November because of what Obama’s Presidency means for African Americans.
“It gives African Americans a chance to reach for their goals knowing that a man had all these odds against him and he achieved the top post in the world,” says Reese.
We still have to make it through the long hot days of summer and both the Democratic and Republican conventions before voters can help President Obama achieve his goal of obtaining a second term, but folks at Saturday’s Artz and Groove festival appeared ready to do their part for the President’s election campaign.