Michelle Obama: ‘Make voting part of who you are’

Michelle Obama speaks to a crowd of nearly 5,000 people gathered at the University of Miami Watsco Center on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Photos: Mike Montero/News@TheU

By Ashley A. Williams

Michelle Obama speaks to a crowd of nearly 5,000 people gathered at the University of Miami Watsco Center on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Photos: Mike Montero/News@TheU

Michelle Obama: ‘Make voting part of who you are’

By Ashley A. Williams
The former First Lady spoke to thousands of fans during her final stop of the “When We All Vote” campaign – a nonpartisan effort.

Met with a thunderous round of cheers and applause, former First Lady Michelle Obama rallied a crowd of young and eligible voters to encourage them to “take their power back.” Her mission is to change the culture around voting and increase participation in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond.

During the last stop of her voter registration rally late Friday afternoon at the University of Miami Watsco Center, Obama was joined by Angela Rye, former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, gospel singer Erica Campbell, and comedian and producer Keegan-Michael Key. Each delivered a message that resonated with the crowd to show up during the upcoming November midterm elections. The 2016 voter turnout was historically the lowest in 20 years, according to the Pew Research Center.

“When a huge chunk of the population sits out of the process, why are we surprised when our politics don’t reflect our values,” Obama asked the crowd.

While endorsing no particular candidate, Obama addressed the current frustrations many people have regarding politics and explained how voting really matters—even when it may feel like it doesn’t.

“So, Miami, I get it, you know,” she said. “I get busy, and I definitely get feeling frustrated. As I said at the beginning of this week, I am frustrated too. I am tired of the daily chaos, the pettiness, the meanness that too often dominate the political discourse. We all are. It is exhausting and honestly it is depressing.”

Obama left the crowd of 5,000 with two relatable analogies she hoped they would never forget and reinforce the importance of voting: “You wouldn’t give your grandmother the power to decide what clothes you wear to the club,” she said. “You wouldn’t give your crazy uncle the power to post a picture to your Instagram feed. So, why would you give a stranger the power to make far more important decisions in your life? Period.”

When We All Vote is a new national nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is bringing citizens, institutions and organizations together to spark a conversation about our rights and the responsibilities of registering and voting. Along with Obama, the co-chairs of the initiative include Tom Hanks, Faith Hill, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, and Tim McGraw.

Glen Howard, a University of Miami senior majoring in broadcast journalism, stood front row and center as Obama delivered her speech. Obama’s ability to speak to him rather than “at them” made her message about voting resonate. 

“Attending the rally showed me how down-to-earth she is,” Howard said. “She made her message very clear to us: voting is not just a privilege but it is our right and if we don’t vote then we have no reason to complain.”