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John Legend visits Georgia State, stumps for Abrams

John Legend visited the Rialto Center for the Arts on Oct. 2, 2018 during an Atlanta college campaign for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Photo by Azam Lalani | The Signal

Stacey Abrams supporters had a busy day Tuesday, Oct. 2.

John Legend, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT) winner, headlined an Atlanta college tour, which included Georgia Tech, Emory University, Morehouse and Spelman College. Georgia State got some love: Legend gave a speech and answered questions at the Rialto Center for the Arts. The busy day would finish with a campaign fundraiser later that night, hosted again by John Legend.

Legend was adamant about the impact of local elections, emphasizing that in his busy life he finds it most convenient to vote by mail.

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“All the Democrats who are down ballot, they are all working together on an agenda that is really important,” Legend said. “Stacey Abrams … believes in debt-free higher education. She is fighting for more pathways to debt forgiveness. She is also fighting for a student loan bill of rights.”

Staying informed is essential to one’s political development, Legend said. The more voices he can pull from, the better he can act.

“I read a lot, honestly. I read the news a lot. I pay attention to what’s going on in the world. I’m on twitter a lot, I follow interesting people that have interesting things to say,” Legend said. “And, I go out and talk to folks. I talk to people all around the country.”

In 2014, John Legend began Free America, a nonprofit campaign for criminal justice reform. He literally did go out and talk to folks in a national tour to educate himself and others. Free America is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the MacArthur Foundation and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

“When I talk to people around the country that are affected by policy, it makes me more passionate about making sure those policies are being written in a thoughtful way that are inclusive and that are just and fair.”

Abrams has solicited the support of many celebrities in her campaign. She brought the actors Tracee Ellis Ross, Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is The New Black”), Aisha Hinds (“Underground”) and Rashida Jones (“Insecure”) to a forum in Columbus on May 1 to support her in the primary election. Janelle Monae made a “Get Out and Vote” speech at Spelman College on Sept. 27, which did not name Abrams but did allude to ‘Black Girl Magic.’

Ebony Carter is the President of the Young Democrats of Georgia State University (YDGSU). YDGSU was one of the contacts and hosts for the Abrams campaign event.

“They called me last Monday. It’s Tuesday. We had a week,” Carter said.

Carter said she has been so involved on the local level with YDGSU that she was unaware of Legend’s political involvement. Once she found out, she was more than eager to get involved.

“[Jovan Paige] … he’s in charge of the millennial contact and engagement,” Carter said. “He calls me and is like, ‘Do you want to be involved in a thing where John Legend comes to your school and talks to you about criminal justice reform?’ and I’m like, ‘John Legend? Like, the singer?’”

But there’s one local celeb she does recognize.

“I love Stacey Abrams … since the beginning,” Carter said. “I actually worked on her campaign.”

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