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Barack Obama frequently talks of his experience as a communtity organizer as his introduction to public service. Obama’s community service work consisted of working for a group called  the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN and its associated Midwest Academy, both founded in the 1970s, continue to train and mobilize activists throughout the country, often using them to manipulate public opinion through “direct action.” It’s sometimes a code for illegal activities.

Prior to law school, Barack Obama worked as an organizer for ACORN affiliates in New York and Chicago. Barack Obama has always has been an ACORN person — meeting and working with them to advance their causes. Through his membership on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago and his friendship with Teresa Heinz Kerry, Obama has helped ensure that they remain funded well.

But what is ACORN up to nowadays?

Jahneil McMahon long ago made up her mind about the presidential election. She connected with Barack Obama’s speeches, felt his experiences would help him understand her life in Hartford. She prefers his views on education, taxes and the mortgage crisis, issues she says particularly affect her city.

Trouble is, she’s only 17.

Which is why, on Thursday morning, McMahon paced the aisles of the Hartford Public High School auditorium with a stack of voter registration forms and a handful of pens. She passed them out to her older schoolmates and monitored from the aisle as they filled them out.

“If I could start helping now, maybe someone else’s voice can be symbolic of mine,” she said.

Although most attempts at registering young voters center on college campuses, a new national effort to reach out to an even wider group of young people is underway.

Because the majority of black and Latino 18- to 24-year-olds don’t attend college, researchers have warned that focusing voter registration efforts on college campuses risks missing out on half of the nation’s young people, particularly black and Latino youth.

“This is a population that has not been tapped,” said Sharon Patterson-Stallings, a member of the Hartford Board of Education and chairwoman of the North End United ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. “We have not really educated people about voting.”

Part rally, part voter registration drive and part lecture on the importance of voting, Thursday’s program at the high school’s Law and Government Academy was one of more than a dozen assemblies held this week at high schools in cities nationwide.

Source Hartford Courant: via Michelle Malkin

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