“Fired Up, And Ready to Go!”

November 1, 2008 Youth and college students representing Georgia area universities came to Columbus, Ga. on a crisp Saturday morning "fired up and ready to go" to kick-off their part of the NAACP Youth & College "Think Hard, Vote Hard" Bus Tour. Just outside of the A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium where football fans were firing up their barbeque grills to tailgate for the Fountain Classic, students, NAACP volunteers and other participants were fired up with excitement as they marched down the street holding an NAACP "Vote Hard" banner repeating in unison: "I know I can...vote on Tuesday." Once the marchers reached the rallying site, NAACP youth college presidents representing chapters such as Morehouse, Spelman and the University of West Georgia College, charged the crowd and surrounding game day tailgaters with pumping music and words of "getting out the vote." NAACP President and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous addressed the youth and was excited to see their enthusiasm, as many were new to the political process but very engaged. Following, was a step show performance, closing the rally whereupon students were greeted by President Jealous. Students and NAACP volunteers boarded their respective buses that would take them into various predominately Black neighborhoods to engage residents to learn if they had voted and provided educational materials if they were not aware of their voting rights. Cities on the tour included: Talbotton, Thomaston, Macon (Lunch Rally), Jonesboro and Marietta. During their whistle stop in Marietta, Paine College students met with NAACP Cobb Branch President Deane Bonner and others at the Cobb Branch office, who expressed their gratitude for what the youth were doing. History and pre-law student Keishaundra Rucker, who is also the Paine College NAACP President, along with psychology major Oscar Jessie of Augusta, were one of several students who answered questions from Marietta residents ranging from what to do if they were on probation, what they should be prepared for when they went to the polls and where to report issues if they experienced problems making their vote count. Final activities culminated that evening at Spelman College in Atlanta.