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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rare Early Interview with Barack Obama

In a 1994 interview (video and text here) a young Barack Obama reflected on a 1992 voter registration project in Illinois:
That’s right, we ended up registering close to 150,000 voters, and I guess I think there were number of factors were at work. First of all I think it was a critical election. Not only did you have Carole Mosley Braun as the first African American senator from Illinois, and the only one in the senate generally. But you also had a major threshold election taking places where the Democrats had the opportunity to challenge Republicans for the White House, and although Project Vote was a non partisan effort, we did feel, was that given that both parties anticipated a close election, the interest and the concern and the enthusiasm and energy the that could be generated out a close presidential contest was going to make registration easier. So that was a major factor.
The second thing that I think had a major impact was the participation of the black business community in the city as well as the participation of the black media outlets in the city. We had major support from a number of black business in the area, particularly Soft Sheen products, Mr. Gary Gardner, the president and his fathered Gardner his sister Terri Gardner, were all extremely supportive. They designed a terrific media campaign with beautiful posters and buttons. They were able to negotiate with the major radio stations like DCI and VON to really drum up a lot of support for voter registration. So I think that in addition to making the point that politics effected [sic] people lives on the street, we were also able to reach out to young people and show that registration was hip, was popular, and was trendy. And though you’d like to think that folks would register because it’s their civic duty, in the media age like this you really have to appeal to young people where they are. And I think that’s what Soft Sheen and Brainstorm and the media stations helped us do