Aiken (WJBF)- An NFL player from Aiken came back to his hometown to help push voter registration across the CSRA. DeMarcus Lawrence joined forces with other organizations in response to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Lawrence, a Silver Bluff High School Alumni and Outside Linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, gave out masks to the first four hundred people who came out and registered to vote. What is more patriotic on July 4th than exercising what could be the most important American right?
“So we’re sitting here talking about systematic racism. This is how you change systematic racism. You get out here and vote,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence, a native of New Ellenton, was in the area this weekend and he contacted the League of Women Voters to set up the event. He says that as a community leader, he wants to use his platform to advocate for change and to help people to understand the power of voting.
“It was all about really getting everybody together and understand what we’re really here to do. And that is register to vote. Understand that we have a right to vote, so when it’s time to say ‘ This didn’t change ‘ you can’t blame nobody else but yourself because you didn’t vote, so,” said Lawrence.
The event was held at the Aiken Standard where people could come out to register to vote, get a free mask from Lawrence and enter to win an autographed Cowboys helmet.Representatives from the NAACP, The League of Women Voters and members of the sorority Zeta Phi Beta were out to help with registration.
“The Black fraternities and sororities are really pushing, um, this is your vote. You need to get out and participate in democracy,” said Gayle Keesee, voter services chair for the League of Women Voters.
Keesee and Karin Sisk, who is the president of the Aiken chapter, said they want people to understand that voting is important, and not just at the national level. They also say voting on local decisions has even more of an impact.
“And now that you’re registered, get out and vote and be an informed voter. And for that purpose Gayla and I would also like to promote Vote 4-1-1 where you can find out about your local issues and candidates, because that’s also important,” said Sisk.
One Aiken County School Board member was also present to show her support for the event. Patrice Rhinehart-Jackson is the Aiken County School Board District 7 Representative.
“Anything to facilitate voter registration is a priority. We are in a time of uncertainty when it comes to elections and our elected officials,” said Rhinehart-Jackson.
Lawrence says that safety at this event was important and that more registration events need to be held.
“I feel like if the people of Aiken County can see me out here trying to make a change they can do it too,” said Lawrence/
Lawrence says that real change will not happen in the nation unless everyone votes and makes their voice heard.
To find out more on how to register to vote or what will be on your local ballot, visit Vote411.