Oscar winner Forest Whitaker has been on the campaign trail in the battleground state of Michigan to drum up support for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
The actor spoke to African American labor, religious, business and grass roots community leaders on the importance of moving from working on voter registration to actually getting people to cast their vote, reports the Huffington Post.
“In Florida, just 500 votes decided the 2000 election. And in Ohio, 2.5 percent of voters decided the 2004 election,” he said, according to HuffPo. “Eleven percent of registered African Americans actually voted in the last election. If we can just move that percentage up we can make a difference.”
Also on Whitaker’s schedule are stops in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor through Saturday.
The 47-year-old father of four told Obama supporters, “There is no more important state than Michigan in this election.” He cited the 35 percent poverty rate in Detroit and the 11 percent unemployment rate across the state as reason for residents and leaders to move for change.
“There are 10,000 homeless people in Detroit alone,” he said. “And the mortgage foreclosures are the worst in the nation.”
During Obama’s last campaign visit to Michigan, the John McCain camp announced that it was shuttering its offices and ending media buys in the state.
Whitaker said that the Obama campaign was focusing energy in the waning days of the campaign in the cities like Detroit. “Barack wants to implement programs that will help cities move forward,” he said. “Where the bailout offered trickle-down solutions, Barack is working to get bottom-up solutions in place, too.”
Obama has said he would appoint the first White House Director of Urban Policy to address the needs of major cities.