Jay-Z and LeBron join together for Obama

Chris Gates

Artist and athlete call for change

Jay-Z and LeBron James performed to a sold out crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland last night, proving that celebrity endorsements are a driving force for presidential candidates.

Many expressed mutual feelings on the event, noting that megastars such as Jay-Z and James drive more votes behind a candidate.

“I think celebrity endorsements are very effective because people get behind entertainers and celebrities, and they support what they’re about,” Cleveland resident Christopher King said. “So when you see them supporting a cause people can really get behind it.”

Others said not only was an event like this influential in earning Sen. Barack Obama votes, but it also proved to be an inspirational event for young voters.

“I think it’s definitely an inspiration,” Lorain resident Donnie Stone said. “A lot of young people are here. By any means they should be able to go out and vote because that’s the message here. It’s not about a concert – it’s about a vote for the Democratic Party.”

The event started with video of Obama voicing his stance on key issues, with the loudest cheers coming for his announcement of a tax cut on all families earning less than $200,000 a year.

Video also introduced the crowd to people Obama met during his campaign, including a woman with an injured husband struggling to provide for her family and a retired couple struggling to afford prescription drugs.

After several speakers, James took the stage and made it an immediate point to stress the level of importance people need to place on Election Day.

“One thing we need to realize is what next Tuesday, November 4 means,” he said. “I need everybody in here – moms, dads, uncles, aunts – to get people out to vote because this is the most important day of our lives.

“If you don’t know who I’m voting for, I’m voting for Obama,” James added.

Most echoed James’ thoughts, showing that the stance celebrities take during the election may influence the public to go out and vote.

“I think it’s great,” Parma resident Latoya Toney said. “It got a lot of young people to listen and the people that are role models, they got the young people to pay attention and say ‘if they’re voting for them, it’s got to be good.'”

And as many had hoped before the show started, the concert proved to be huge in the minds of young voters.

“Tonight is huge because you see a hip-hop guru, somebody who has got popularity all over the country, all over the world, getting behind Barack,” King said. “That’s almost as big as Colin Powell getting behind him or anybody else – maybe even bigger because he has such an appeal to the minority, the younger kids.

“I feel like he has all that support just because of what LeBron and Jay-Z are getting ready to do right now.”

Contact public affairs reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].