His name isn’t on the ballot today, but then again, he doesn’t need any votes.
Jay-Z, also known as the president of hip-hop, was in North Philadelphia yesterday campaigning for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama during the “Promote the Vote Block Party.”
Though the hip-hop mogul didn’t perform, he attracted thousands of Obama supporters on the 2200 block of North Broad Street between Dauphin Street and Susquehanna Avenue. Jay-Z, along with R&B artist Mary J. Blige and record producer P. Diddy, encouraged those in attendance to be informed about their rights as voters and make their votes count on Election Day.
“We have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, our country and our new leader, but we have to go out and vote to make the difference,” Mary J. Blige said. “Things will not get better if we don’t do something different. We have been doing the same exact thing forever but expecting a different result.”
Obama’s presidential candidacy excited supporters at the block party because of its historical significance.
“Some of us have been waiting for 400 years,” Mayor Michael Nutter said about Obama possibly being elected as the next president.
North Philadelphia resident Tiaisha Dandy is excited Obama has made it far in the race for the Oval Office.
“It’s the first time a black man has made it this far, so I’m excited,” said Dandy, who is a case manager for To Our Children’s Future With Health, Inc., a community-based nonprofit agency. “I think he’s going to help open a lot of doors, and even if he doesn’t make it, I don’t want people to feel like we won’t ever have a chance because he paved the way.”
Jay-Z reminded voters of the importance of the presidential election with a freestyle verse.
“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama’s sprinting, so we all could fly.”
Marcus Durham attended the block party after being inspired by previous events held by the Obama campaign in Philadelphia.
Durham said celebrities endorsing Obama positively promotes the Democratic candidate’s candidacy.
“As long as when [celebrities] dealing with the political aspect [of] endorsing Barack conduct themselves accordingly, I don’t see a problem with it,” Durham said.
Temple alumna Preasha Brittingham supports Obama’s policy for healthcare reform.
“My mother is a little sickly,” she said. “And I was always taught to embrace your culture and heritage and support someone that you know who is going to make a change for this country.”
“At the end of the day we are so powerful. We are kings, we are queens, so this means we have the power to build or destroy, make things better or worse, it’s our choice. What will we choose?” Blige said.
“At this point I think you’re either going to vote or you’re not,” said Sarah Caspersen, a former Florida resident.
Caspersen supports Obama because of his appeal to young voters.
“McCain comes from a different time than I am, and so does Obama, but he’s closer to me,” Caspersen said. “I think McCain is further in the past than I am, and Obama thinks about education, healthcare, and I like his ideas better.”
Jay-Z encouraged attendees to vote for change.
“John McCain desperately needs Philadelphia,” Jay-Z said, “but you can tell him you cannot have Pennsylvania.”
Brittany Diggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.