Teen Activist Wants to Cast First Vote for Obama

02/25/2007 09:01 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

My first election

As youth activist my first action in celebration of my 18th birthday was to register to vote with Helen Butler, executive director of the Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda. My mother took a picture and Mrs. Rita Samuels, the first Black woman to work in the Governor's office in Georgia under Governor and later President Jimmy Carter was also in the picture. Mrs. Samuels is the founder of the Georgia Coalition of Black Women and she is an ardent supporter of women, especially Black women. We talked about the election and we all expressed support for Senator Barack Obama for president.

I am excited to have a Black and a female candidate to choose from. I would definitely go with Obama over Hillary for a number of reasons including the fact that he is not related to any recent president. Out of the five Black women assembled only one of us would vote for Hillary if Obama were out of the race and two or three would not vote for her under any circumstance. It was a great conversation and I will share details next week after I get permission to quote others.

Right now I hope that America proves that you don't have to be a Bush or a Clinton to become president. I am not so sure. I mean you read things in books about the process but times change and today it seems that only a few families are eligible to live in the White House. I really don't remember Bush I, just Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush and I don't want to see another Clinton, Clinton. Then their kids will grow up and the legacy could just keep getting passed down. It is bad enough when it is father and son but husband and wife takes it too far. It would be better to just let the same person run again and again without limit. The result is the same concentrating power in the hands of a few.

Politically I'm Independent. I don't want to be taken for granted and I won't be ignored. If I could have my pick for president right now it would be Colin Powell. He has military experience, personal integrity, and he is a proven leader. America seems to prefer style over substance so that leaves great leaders out of the running.

Environment

Over my winter break my driving privileges depended upon my reading one non-fiction and one fiction book and both had to be qualified as "literary" by my mother. I then had to tell her about the two books. To be honest I only skimmed Mary Frances Berry's book My Face Is Black Is True about ex-slave Callie House who worked hard to secure reparations for former slaves. From the back cover I knew that "A widowed Nashville washerwoman and mother of five, House went on to fight for African American pensions based on those offered to Union soldiers, brilliantly targeting $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton and demanding it as repayment for centuries of unpaid labor." Of course when my mother presented me with a copy of a letter from Dr. John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association to House Judiciary Chairman, The Honorable John Conyers I knew that cotton would be the topic of discussion.

It seems that Monsanto is at it again. Monsanto first hit my radar when they went to court to establish that farmers could not replant genetically modified seeds without a license and they won the case against an old Canadian farmer. I know that African farmers accuse Monsanto and other multinational companies of trying to monopolize seeds. I always try to look at issues from an environmental justice perspective so when environmental issues come up I ask what is the impact on the Black community and globally what is the impact on Africa. This is my way of trying to sort things out.

Dr. Boyd represents almost 200,000 Black farmers in the US and Africa and he states that Monsanto controls 95% of the cotton genetic seed market and another company, Delta Pine & Land supplies 75% of the cotton seed market in the Southeast. These two companies want to merge to create an even greater monopoly that would limit the farmer's ability to purchase the seeds that they want. This is a serious issue but nobody cares about genetically modified seeds except hard-core environmentalists. I believe the Congressional Black Caucus will step up. It will be hard to follow but this is the kind of thing that hurts those working on the bottom.

Books

I actually did read and thoroughly enjoyed Tina McElroy Ansa's Ugly Ways. I thought the writing was excellent and I was able to explore the thinking of the Lovejoy sisters about their mother. In a weird way all of this went together because Madea, the center of the Ansa's book was determined to be free. Her children didn't understand but it is true that people are born with a God-given right to be free.

College

Somebody responded to my concern about the cost of college by suggesting that private school may be out of reach so I should consider a less expensive state school since I obviously cannot afford a private school and because that is the decision that the writer had to make. It is not my goal to go to a private school. I made my college choices based upon many factors. I know that I am more likely to graduate and to succeed in life if I attend a Historically Black College that is a fact. I know that NYU offers one of the only programs in recording arts where I can also get a liberal arts education. Cost matters, debt matters, and I am willing to work. The point that I was trying to make is that maybe we subsidize the wrong things.