Democratic National Committee Superdelegate and friend of ServeNext Madison, Awais Khaleel, has become quite popular over the last few weeks. After putting up a YouTube video (see above) asking his peers across the country what to do with the “power” of being a superdelegate in the historic 2008 Presidential Primary, he has received lots of feedback — including from actor Kal Penn, star of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and National Arts Policy Committee Member for the Barack Obama for President campaign.
Mr. Penn is one of the many prominent candidate supporters Ms. Wolfe, 25, a law student at the University of Detroit-Mercy and Mr. Khaleel, 23, a junior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, have heard from recently. But the two of them haven’t been swayed just yet. They posted a YouTube video two weeks ago asking for input from other college students on how to vote.
“Guess who might decide the leader of the free world?” Mr. Khaleel asks in the clip. “Me!”
A friend of Reilly Goodwin (our Lead Organizer at the University of Wisconsin), Khaleel took the time out of his busy schedule to speak at the ServeNext Chapter Launch event in Madison last month. His message centered on our unique moment in American history and the grassroots excitement now growing around the expansion of National Service programs. Interestingly, Penn’s open letter to Khaleel included college affordability, volunteerism, and the call for young people to play an active role in our democracy.
State after state, I have been meeting young people who, for the first time in their lives, are not simply voting, but volunteering for a campaign. After being told for years that their voices don’t count for much, they have risen up and joined us in securing a better world for all Americans. Many of these folks cannot afford a college education. Many lack health care. Some are caring for ailing parents. Others are first-generation Americans. Overwhelmingly, they’ve answered the challenge that Senator Obama has given them: to take responsibility and become involved. I ask you not to ignore them any longer.
While we know that Khaleel won’t be swayed by celebrities, Penn’s words reinforce the feeling among the National Service Community that the time to expand AmeriCorps is upon us… that there is a perfect storm brewing. We wish Awais the best of luck and, regardless of which campaign he chooses to back, we hope that he’ll bring the passion, idealism, and can-do spirit of our generation with him to Denver this summer for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.