‘So glad you’re here’

ST. PAUL, Minn. — “Minnesota ACORN is going to reach our goal of 38,000 new voters. We’ve been going to malls, neighborhoods, high schools. We’ve gone to naturalization ceremonies. As soon as the people become citizens they can act in their best interest and register to vote.

“We hear so many positive things like ‘I’m so glad you’re here. Let me register.’ Education, jobs, housing, health care and safety issues — well-lit streets or countering negative life styles in the neighborhoods like drugs or prostitution — are issues that concern people.

“There is a real meanness to this particular administration and campaign. Cutting overtime pay or pushing back other gains, they have a way of hurting American citizens, not building up American citizens. They are pitting people against each other. They pit people of color against each other. They have a bully mentality.

“I’m optimistic but Democrats need to articulate their message on people’s concerns. Taking away overtime pay is un-American. Social programs and looking out for your brother is a Christian value.

“We are calling those we’ve registered. We are also telling voters to bring a photo ID to the polls or something with their address on it. We are door-knocking. On Election Day we will be visible early in the morning and after work, during drive time, to remind people to vote. We are part of the Wellstone bus caravan. We will be giving rides to the polls. Our members are precinct captains. We are educating our membership on their rights. We’ll be answering the phones Election Day as a resource to be there for voters.”

— Shada Buyobe-Hammond, Minnesota ACORN board chair
(Interviewed by Terrie Albano)