Hillary Clinton’s South Carolina campaign seeking young black voters brought out star power Monday as “Barbershop” actor Sean Patrick Thomas visited students at Rock Hill’s Clinton College.
Thomas, 45, a classically trained actor best known for the Barbershop movies and other movies such as “Save the Last Dance” as well as television roles, told the students at the historical black college that Clinton will fight for both the country and for issues important to black people in America. About 50 students at the small college were at the late morning presentation that is part of Clinton’s “Get Out the Vote” strategy of using such actors as Angela Bassett and Vivica Fox to reach younger voters at South Carolina’s historical black colleges.
“Hillary Clinton is a fighter- she’s tough,” Thomas told the crowd in espousing Clinton’s experience as a senator and secretary of state. “Who other than Hillary Clinton has that type of experience - nobody.”
South Carolin’as Democratic primary Feb. 27 is the first in the South and the first to have a sizable black voting block. Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in all South Carolina polls. Hillary Clinton also has name recognition from running in a losing effort against Barack Obama in South Carolina in 2008 and her eight years as first lady.
Black voters make up about half of the Democratic primary voters in South Carolina. Clinton was trounced by Obama in 2008 by a 2 to 1 margin, but she has no black candidate running against her this year and her campaign is making sure black voters know that.
Thomas, a Barack Obama supporter before supporting Clinton, said he was asked by another actor to get involved in campaigning for Hillary Clinton and agreed, saying that she is by far the best candidate for president in either party. Clinton has a long record of fighting for the rights of black people and has a record of supporting historical black colleges, Thomas said.
Thomas called the election “a pivotal time” and that only Clinton will continue successes that have started under Barack Obama. More, Thomas said, using the vote is a way a young person can make a statement about the country young people want to inherit.
Students asked several questions about Clinton, but also were a bit star-struck - asking Thomas about working with Ice Cube and others in movies. But the trip was about getting votes Feb. 27 and many of Clinton’s students who will be voting for the first time were impressed that Thomas would make the trip to visit with them personally and make an appeal for Clinton.
“The presentation was excellent - I wasn’t going to vote but he made it clear why it is important to vote,” said freshman Cheyenne Whaley. “What he said about Hillary Clinton wanting to better our communities - especially for blacks - I’m going to vote for her.”
Student Jamel Jones, who asked several questions about Clinton’s experience and commitment to black people, said the Clinton method of using stars to reach young people is a smart move. And more, the message hit its mark with him.
“I didn’t know before today who I was going to vote for, but it’s Hillary Clinton,” Jones said.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065