BY JAMES HARPER
There were squeals and applause as Keke Palmer entered the room on Sept. 15 to talk to hundreds of Bethune-Cookman University students.
During a visit to the university, Palmer, 19, spoke on behalf of President’s Obama’s campaign, urging students to register to vote and support her candidate.
“We are the future. Young adults identify with me,” Palmer said about why she’s working to help re-elect the president.
From ‘Barbershop 2’ to ‘True Jackson, VP’
Palmer is perhaps best known for her role in “Akeelah and the Bee,” the story of Akeelah Anderson, an 11-year-old girl who participates in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
She made her acting debut in the 2004 film “Barbershop 2: Back in Business’’ and appeared in “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Cleaner,” “The Longshots” and” Shrink.” In 2012, Palmer starred in four films “Joyful Noise,” “Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift” and “Virgin Mary.”
Besides films, Palmer also has had numerous television roles, including the Nickelodeon sitcom “True Jackson, VP.” Palmer earned $20,000 per episode of “True Jackson VP,” which made her the fourth highest-paid child star on television.
“I get to decide who gets my very first vote,” Palmer told the crowd, many in the audience who could relate to her since most of them were freshmen and her age.
Promoting Obamacare and other policies
Palmer talked about her sister who is four years older and still in school.
“Because of Obamacare, she can stay on my parents’ insurance,” Palmer remarked.
Palmer said she supports Obama for many reasons, including his support of paycheck fairness for women, Pell grants for college, as well as the work he has done on securing access for loans.
“I believe in a president that works to serve all the people,” Palmer continued.
She urged the students to say involved. “We can make a difference in this election,” Palmer said.
Palmer said she dreams of the day she is able to go back to college. When she does, she plans to attend a historically Black college or university. She was enrolled at Harvard University for a short time.
Struggles paying off for actress
Because of her work schedule as an actress, it was hard for her to stay in one place at a time.
“I always think about it. I want to have a real college experience like you all have – something that can’t be taken away from me,” Palmer said, adding she will eventually take some time off to go back to school.
For now, Palmer said she has no regrets because ever since childhood, she was passionate about becoming an actress and her family supported her.
Palmer said initially it was a struggle moving from motel to motel until her first big break. But it has paid off and the young star is having the “most fun in my life.”
Palmer: Use social media to promote talent
When asked by a student about how to get into acting, Palmer warned students about security agents who want money upfront. She said, “They shouldn’t ask you for money. They are working for you.”
Palmer suggests those who have a talent such as singing to use social media and make a YouTube video and or tweet (on Twitter) to make themselves known.
Veteran who attends B-CU addresses crowd
Julian Purdy, a B-CU student and Obama volunteer spoke before Palmer. Purdy, 30, is a veteran who recently returned from Afghanistan.
“Freedom itself is not free. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to get President Obama re-elected. I’m not alone in my journey to get President Obama elected,” said Purdy, who said he had to initially pay out of pocket to attend B-CU.
“I wouldn’t be here without reforms put in place by President Obama. If it wasn’t for Pell grants and loans, I wouldn’t be here,” he remarked.
Freshman Tashenia Torres said she wanted to hear what Palmer had to say.
“I want to make a difference in the world. Everyone should be involved. This is my first time voting. I’m a proud Democrat. He’s (Obama) done more for people than any other president. It’s important to vote and keep our first African-American president in office,” Torres said, adding that she wished she could have voted in 2008. “I want to be part of history.
Students speak of ‘obligation to vote’
Student Rasheem Nubin signed up as a volunteer while waiting for Palmer to speak.
“There is an obligation to vote. Our ancestors marched for us to have this opportunity. In times like these college students need to vote. Our financial aid is on the line,” Nubin said.
Kelcy McCrary echoed Nubin. “A lot of students are registered to vote. We need to be educated about voting and political system,” he said.
Irvens McKenzie said 2012 is an important election year for those who want to go to college and don’t have the resources to do so.
Mckenzie believes Ob-ama will be more supportive of students who want to go to a HBCU.
“Mitt Romney said if you don’t have money, ask your parents. He thinks everybody’s rich – everybody has money to go to college,” McKenzie added.